Matie Voices

Kobus Louw

Alumnus of the Faculty of Science

“Balance does not breed brilliance, focus breeds brilliance. But brilliance usually comes at a very expensive cost.”

When he was six years old, Kobus Louw told his mother that he was going to work in a bank one day, and it became a reality. His parents instilled two values in him during his childhood years, which would eventually form the foundation of his success. The first was that you take 100% responsibility for your own life and actions and that no one is going to do it for you. Secondly, his father always used to say “don’t do what I say, do what I do”. His father truly led by example and Kobus learned later that this is a scarce quality in the world we live in today. Kobus is the founder of the company, an e-learning platform that measures the knowledge of the learner on key concepts within modules before starting the learning journey, and then reiterates the right content at the right frequency for each specific learner based on their knowledge of the subject matter. The road to this was challenging and his own experiences played a crucial role.

He grew up in Faerie Glen in Pretoria East and attended the Drakensberg Boys Choir School from grade 5 to 7, which was a significant chapter in his life. This is where he learnt extreme discipline with a tight routine each day. He attended Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies) where he learnt what it meant to fight for what you want and believe in. It was here that one of his athletics coaches taught him an amazing lesson: Always ask yourself why you are doing something and count the cost.

“We look at success, especially financial success, and dream about reaching it and work towards it. But while striving towards it, we often only look at what we will be getting, rather than what we would be sacrificing. We have to search deep and hard and ask ourselves if the sacrifices and cost of what we want to achieve are really worth it. Balance does not breed brilliance – focus breeds brilliance. But brilliance usually comes at a very expensive cost.”

Kobus says his father did not spoil him, but gave him only enough pocket money per month for one movie ticket; he had to work for more if he wanted more. This is how his first business started – building and selling computers when he was in grade 9.

After Affies, he spent a year at an organisation called Spell-Bound, which served as a quest year discovering what he truly wanted to do and was passionate about. “It was here that I met a mentor that would change my life forever, Kevin Horsley. When Kevin was at school, he was dyslexic, had a reading speed that would embarrass a five-year-old and passed matric with the help of his mom who had to read his work to him. He had a useless memory. His biggest void became his biggest value, and he is now one of the world’s biggest memory gurus, the Guinness Book of World Records record holder for the Everest of memory tests, and a New York Times bestseller. Kevin taught me everything I know today about memory and how to teach anyone from any walk of life how to commit any information to memory. This became the foundation for Digemy.”

After this quest year, Kobus started with his degree in mathematical sciences at Stellenbosch University in 2015. In his second year, he realised a phenomenon that would shape Digemy and the way people constructed their learning environment. “You would study something, have it in your memory after cramming it in, but after coming back from a two-month holiday, most of what I learnt was forgotten, which I later had to re-learn. If only I took the time and practised the diligence to repeat the information over a set frequency, by the time I would get to the next test cycle or write exams, it would have been a breeze,” he says.

“After finishing university, I was hit by the real world. I didn’t have a clue how to conduct myself in the world of work, how to manage my finances, how to create a CV that draws attention, how short-term insurance, medical aid or life insurance works. I realised there was a massive gap in the market,” he says.

Kobus is still involved at his residence as oud-Dagbrekerbond chairperson. He wants to ensure that students step out of university into a framework where they are mentored, coached and guided to attain success and reach their goals. He also lives by these three core values: mentorship, authentic leadership and accountability.

“My dream is to create a framework like this, not only for graduating Dagbrekers, but also for anyone in South Africa who is willing to step into an environment where they have a network to assist them, mentors to help them, and coaches to guide them. I am convinced that if we can successfully implement such a framework, we would change South Africa.”

Kobus was working in the credit industry, consulting and building financial forecasting models for banks in Africa, UAE and Saudi Arabia. He then realised that he spent so much time forecasting the financial behaviour of the consumer, without jumping over the imaginary wall between the models and the consumer and actually change consumer behaviour through education. “I was then on a drive to start with financial literacy content that could educate South African consumers on their finances. I then realised that if I wanted to create a scalable solution to transfer knowledge, I would have to reinvent the conventional distance learning models.” It was then that he created Digemy.

Digemy stepped away from the conventional learning model focusing on progress into a world focused on knowledge growth and mastery. By measuring the base knowledge of a learner before they start with a course, they can keep a learner accountable to what they are learning, and by repeating the right content at the right time, increase knowledge while decreasing the time spent learning. They now have an intelligent system that tracks learning knowledge and engagement, and knows what to repeat to a person and when.

His motivation is his wife, as well as passion, purpose and conviction. He believes that he was placed on this earth to change the way people learn, to optimise their lives, and ultimately build a platform that will motivate and change people to become the best versions of themselves.

- By Elbie Els -