Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

A former IT whizzkid who set up his own technology company when he was just 18 has moved his expanding business into Mercia Marina

Lee Jepson, 29, now employs 32 staff at L.E.A.D IT and manages IT services for 135 schools, 28 of which are in Derby.

The company is part of the L.E.A.D Academy Trust which provides professional services to schools, ranging from IT to financial management, leadership support and human resources.

The number of schools that L.E.A.D IT is working with has more than doubled since January 2017 and Lee has come a long way since he first launched the venture when he was a student at Noel-Baker Academy in Derby. His company also works with businesses and charities.

He said:

“We were originally known as Noel-Baker IT services where I was the network manager for Noel-Baker School. We started supporting Alvaston Junior School as a feeder school and then other schools started to hear about the services that we offered and we picked up more. It just gained momentum over the years as we were saving schools money to invest into their IT equipment. We also started to take school leavers from various schools in Derby offering them apprenticeships and training.

“Now we work in Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, Newark, Mansfield, Sheffield, Leeds and we have just picked up a contract for Luton Council.  We also have a hub in Sheffield and one in Nottingham for staff who need to work in those areas and to save them from travelling.

“The driving factor for me when I was 18 was that I wanted to get out there and buy my own home. I never could have imagined that we would be where we are now and in this location.”

Lee, of Belper, is looking to expand further and has moved into offices at Mercia Marina that were formerly occupied by pharmaceutical company Bionical, which has moved into the marina’s new Piazza building. Lee’s company was previously based at Pride Park after moving out of Noel-Baker Academy.

He said:

“We were working on the CCTV, door access control and alarm for the new Piazza building and I heard that Bionical were moving, I thought this would be a great location for us. We’ve installed free Wifi in The Boardwalk Bar & Dining at the marina and we are looking to see what we can do for the boaters here too.”

Lee’s company provides a fully managed end-to-end IT service that is complemented by its own broadband, telephone and mobile network. The managed IT Service covers the day to day on-site and remote support, but also includes patching, server monitoring, GDPR support, filtering, off-site backups and encryption to name a few. The company also installs Wifi, door access control and interactive whiteboards enhancing its service portfolio further.

He said:

“We have monitoring screens around the office which tell us immediately if a school goes offline and then we can obviously deal with the issue proactively. We also monitor and support safeguarding and e-safety. We run a programme that can trigger an alert if a student was on school equipment and was to type in a word such as self-harm. The system sends an email straight to the school’s safeguarding officer with evidence and information of the device used at that time.

“We love working with our schools and have a good understanding of school IT needs as we are from an educational IT background. Our flexibility means we can work during the evening so as not to disrupt the school day, we can also provide additional support during Ofsted inspections. As well as the proactive monitoring and support, our reactive support is very useful in the event of outages or if a headteacher’s laptop needs fixing. Our bulk buying power across our schools is beneficial to all of our schools to pass on the cost saving.  Additionally over the years we have donated over £50K worth of equipment to our schools where funding is limited, kit from other schools which is still in good working order is re-used.”

Robert Neff, General Manager at Mercia Marina, said:

“Mercia Marina celebrates the extraordinary, the ground breaking, the trendsetting, those that think and live outside of the box, and that means we are very proud to have Lee and his team with us. His achievements at such a young age are admirable and we welcome Lee and his team. We will certainly be using L.E.A.D. IT’s services.”


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