Hi Guys, I am Mark Essien - founded Hotels.ng in 2012, and it has grown to become the largest online hotel booking website in Nigeria. We just received new funding of $1.2m (about N250m at current exchange rate) from Omidyar Network and EchoVC to double down on our vision for Hotels.ng. You can ask me anything here, and I will do my best to answer accurately and give the info!
The interactive session will officially begin at 4pm when @Mark will begin to answer questions, but you can begin to post them now. See you later!
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I have always been inspired by you from the first time i read about you on venturesburn…Here’s my question before you received funding from spark how many employees did you have…
How is working with the bullish Jason? Do you sometimes find his being bullish as annoying or inspiring?
How many African countries does Hotels.ng intend to cover?
Congratulations on your new funding + awesome office spaces.
I have the following questions for you, sir.
- Have you been in a failed start-up before? Why did it fail? what would you do differently?
- How many hours a week do you spend on work? How do you balance out on family/hobbies?
- What’s the best question about your company or the market asked of you in the last 30 days by (a) a member of the press, (b) an investor and © a customer?
- What could be the future implications of the disruption you/your company is driving in the hospitality industry.
Hi Mark, congratulations!
- how exactly does hotels.ng make money?
- you mentioned turning down some investment offers. How can I get them to pitch?
Congrats – looking forward to your team putting that capital to work in penetrating Nigeria and Africa at large.
What’s your view on competition? How closely do you follow what Jovago is doing? Or what Wakanow, Travelstart, etc., are doing relative to hotels?
At the end of 2014, you made the following statement: "We recorded almost no customer complaints in last two months, while booking tens of thousands of people.” So…what’s your approach towards customer service? And how has your team (apparently) been able to proactively address issues?
What startups in Nigeria (aside from hotels.ng) are you particularly excited about? Or, if you weren’t trying to make an impact in Nigeria’s online travel industry, what other problems would look interesting to you?
Congrats Mark…I am really impressed at your growth and you give me hope that we are all on the same track.
Congrats ones more. I know as an entrepreneur getting staff is one of the most difficult things to do, how would you manage that? Having a shit load of money is one thing, getting talented and company/purpose driven people is another thing. How will you manage this…I want you to answer here so you can help anyone in our shoes. Will call you later to come pop some champaign…
Congrats Mark, the future is promising!
What was your biggest fear on the journey to this point, and how long did you anticipate it will take you to cross this threshold?
Congrats on the raise. Even as an observer, I find raising a round to come with heavy expectations, so I wish you all the best.
- What is the bigger expense or spending priority for the round you raised, business development, engineering or operations?
- At what valuation was this round raised?
- I know even before Spark, that you bootstrapped the idea from launch. What was your biggest expense or cash burner at the beginning?
- Finally, what would you have done the same, or differently if you were starting today?
Thanks for being as open as you’ve been. More power to you, and every entrepreneur in the space, really.
Its amazing what you have been able to build and the humility with which you are building it. I have watched you from afar, ever smiling and ever ready to help. I love the caption “ask me anything”, so here goes;
I. How many percent of your company did you have to give up for $1.2million. Do you own controlling shares?
2. Do you regret the funding you got from Jason Njoku and the amount of shares you had to give up? Heard it was 35 percent then.
3. Who are your senior management team? In every conversation about Hotels I only hear about you the founder, never about the team.
4. What complex technology does Hotels.ng use? Looking at your background and looking at the service.
5. Did yu choose your investors or did they choose you? I am personally working on a service and trying to decide who my investors should be.
Congratulations on the funding once again.
My questions to you will be, at what valuation did EchoVC and Omidyar Network invest, and if its not confidential, how much did they individually pitch in??
My Oga, huge congrats on this feat. We will continue to watch you blaze the trail.
My questions goes this :
What is it about hotels culture that has made you successful and how will you keep it consistent as you scale.
Do you consider yourself a technology company or a hotel booking service?
Tell us three business development hacks you used to stay afloat while you raised money…?
Congratulations, Mark! You are an inspiration to tech founders and future tech founders (like me).
I’m curious about your recruitment process though. How do you get the right fit for various departments of your business? To paraphrase: how do you find - and hire - great employees?
Congratulations Mark. I have only four questions.
- If hotels.ng were not successful, what else would you have been doing today?
- Is there any thing you wish you did differently or earlier in the course of running hotels.ng?
- What advice will you give to someone in Nigeria that has 3 million dollars and wants to create a hotel booking startup similar to yours?
- If your biggest competition comes to you for advice, what will you tell him/her?
- How do I get you to invest in my business?
- What inspired you to start Hotels.ng?
- Now that you have more funds what should we expect to see?
- If you could buy any Tech company what company will it be and why?
First of all, it was just me coding the site, then after that I hired a friend called Charles Bassey - and we were working together getting our inventory in calabar. That was before I moved to Lagos
Hi Mark, Congrats,
My questions goes as this
- Since the VC’s are foreign, did you have to register Hotels.ng in the U.S. ?
- What were the Due Diligence steps taken by the Investors, before investing?
In real life, Jason is actually quite sweet and kind. Hotels.ng intends to cover ALL african countries, and maybe far away in the future, we could be an african brand that takes over in a western country!