I am Mark Essien, Founder of Hotels.ng, ask me anything!


Thanks for the congrats and the notes on our office space. It’s still a work in progress.

  1. I have been in a failed startup before. It failed because the market was not there (in one case) and it failed because of co-founder issues (in another case). I’d do differently is make sure there is a market, and be very careful in selecting co-founders

  2. About 50 hours. My hobbies are not very wild mostly reading, so it’s easy to balance out. Time must be made for family, as that’s as important as work

  3. a) Press don’t tend to ask good questions b) have you done your cohort analysis recently? c) why is this site not working on blackberry?

  4. Emerging platforms are changing the travel landscape. Our future capitlisation on these will greatly influence others.


Hey Mark,

Congratulations! I know how difficult it is for e-commerce businesses to survive in Nigeria, especially hotel search websites. I’m glad you have been breaking-through.

My questions are:

How do you deal with:

  • Poor communication between the hotels and you

  • Lack of hotel prices credibility: Most times, hotel reservation websites’ prices are higher than hotels’, I think this is because most hotel change their prices without any prior notice.

  • There are a million and one hotels in Nigeria, many of them do not know anything about hotel marketing, especially on the internet, such as highlighting the hotel’s unique features, providing quality photos, visual storytelling, content marketing via hotels.ng, attracting travellers with videos, can you provide solutions to this? to help Nigerian hoteliers meet up with International standards.

  • Now that you have some investment, are you going to spread round in Nigeria, by getting some office space in some major cities ?

  • We have seen Airbnb grown impressively due to their unique marketing strategies - From social media to Content marketing - which is key. Do you think this kind of marketing methods can work in Nigeria?

Once again, Congratulations on your breakthrough, I wish you all the best!


– Competition is neccessary for you to have a baseline on which you want to improve from. Otherwise you can have a really crappy product, and you don’t know because there is nothing to compare it with

– Customer service in my opinion, is about empowering customer service to do the best they can to help people, no matter what it costs

– I am excited about about 5 startups, but I don’t want to put their names so that the ones I don’t mention don’t delete my number from their phone


Hi Mark,

A couple of questions

  • What is Hotels.ng built on? i.e framework, language, etc.
  • Is it more cost effective for you to use VPS type solution, or Cloud hosting
  • Also, I read somewhere a while back that you guys provide people with smartphones to go and enlist hotel owners and take pictures. Is this still the practise? If so, do you think it can scale as you ramp up operations?



Congratulations man!

  1. Hindsight is 20/20 they say. With the benefit of hindsight what would you do different as regards

A. Raising money. Seed and Series A.
B. Recruitment.
C. Gaining traction.

  1. How many bookings do you process a month?

  2. What is the weirdest booking request you’ve got? e g. A Swinger Party or Booking a whole Hotel for a single individual who does not like right be disturbed.

  3. Your pick for the most underrated hotel in Nigeria. Price and quality.

  1. We charge the hotels a referal fee


Hello Mark,

Congrats on your new large figures.

I am writing to ask about your email-job interview which started on Twitter. We all knew about the first interview and you even provided the answers of the successful applicant on your Medium page but we didn’t hear anything about the last interview. What happened? Was anyone employed?



Hi Mark. Well done on the funding. How were you able to run hotels.ng before Spark? What’s your advice to entrepreneurs particularly Tech startup founders like myself who are fully bootstrapping their businesses and looking to go for funding at some point in the future.


Do you intend to use “Hotels.ng” as the official domain in other African countries when expanding?


I do things like this - https://medium.com/mark-essien/hotels-ng-interview-questions-to-screen-for-a-genius-49bb6cb9946a - to find people.


Hey @mark! No questions, just a gif!


My biggest fear was that we would not make enough money in time to be able to survive, in case we did not raise money in time. Luckily, with focus and a bit of lucky, we crossed that bridge.


Lol @ 2.

Saw that coming!

  1. Our expense will betray our strategy, so I rather not say

  2. At a valuation that has given Spark a 5x return on investment already, and that will allow me generate another 5x return to the new investors

  3. My biggest expense was getting hotels on the platform

  4. Differently - I would have avoided doing things that are side-experiments and been more focused on the main thing.



  1. Right now, I own more of the company than if I had no investment, but I had a co-founder

  2. With Jason and Bastian and the support/exposure they gave, would we have made it this far?

  3. So far we have operated without a ‘senior’ management team. But that is about changing. Expect some news here.

  4. Sphinx was a bit complex to setup

  5. We chose each other, just like a marriage :couplekiss:


Congratulations Mark. I guess you are ready to take on Jovago now :smiley:

  1. Would you say more Nigerians are warming up to online reservations or do you think there is still work to do?
  2. What would you say is the best strategy to grow an online business as well as increase traffic on your website of a niche market?


It’s me again?
3) Do you go into these hotels to look around before listing them?
4) Do you plan to go into holiday packages like thomas cook them?



  • Hotels Culture is one of everyone-do-your-best and always keep thinking. The overall philosophy is that people should not need to be controlled to do their best. The netflix presentation on this is one of the best I have read, and I hope we one day achieve this.

  • We are 100% is a technology company

    1. Staying very focused on what would contribute to bottom line and what would not 2. Implementing performance based compensation across board 3. Deferring expenses that were not critical


Luck works the best. I tried a lot of things, then decided to settle on pure chance.


Jason njoku invested in hotels.ng when you were not 100% ready would you do the same to another startup?