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


Hello @mark, so I work with several startups, some of which are currently going through the fundraising process and default positioning of most entrepreneurs is “This investor is out to cheat me, steal my equity and completely take over my company.” From your experience, is this a positioning to maintain or would you say investors are likely partners and enablers in your business growth despite their profit-making goal?

Huge congratulations on this milestone and a big thank you for agreeing to do this AMA. It’s an emerging ecosystem and there’s a dearth of information around. The few founders who have achieved this milestone are hesitant to speak of their experience thereby depriving the ecosystem of much needed education.

Best wishes as you continue on this adventure!


– I was inspired by wanting to do something in tech in Nigeria, and seeing a big open market
– Expect to see some more of the good stuff!


Ok @mark . Question.

How do you manage your psychology? There was a time when Jovago was very prominent in the media - did that affect you? How do you stay focused?


So the way I see things is this - I have a certain amount of information available to me at any one time. If I look at the entirety of that information logically, then there are various answers that comes out of that information. One of those answers is the best answer. If you are executing on that best answer, unless you have more information, it’s the best you can do. So all I do is examine my current actions and think - am I doing the best I can do with the information I currently have? If so, then I am okay, so there is no need for shakings. If not then course correction.


What do you think hinders the teenage entrepreneur spirit i Africa? and what can be done so that there would be successful teenage entrepreneur.



Hello Mark

First congratulations to you. I know that starting and running Hotels.ng as a coder and as same time CEO wasn’t fun and easy. How were you able to handle and conquer that stage.

Secondly what challenges were prevalent to you and Hotels.ng from the beginning and still persist.

Finally, do you think you would have rejected Jason’s money (not advice and support) if you had had an alternative (Maybe could have funded it yourself form the start)

Once again, congratulations


Two answers:

To answer the first question: I would be doing another startup. To answer the second question - I think I did the best I could considering what I knew then. And I would answer the last three as follows:


We currently have built a profitable business, and even if I started paying divideds, I would be able to pay Spark a good return. Investment comes in to accelerate the growth of the business by allowing us do things like exand to other countries, which we would naturally not have been able to do with our own capital.


Hi Mark, Congrats!:

  1. Can you explain what you meant by ‘Referral fee’ is that same as commission?
  2. If it’s commission, how do you treat payment - user pay you and you remit to hotel or they pay hotel and you get your commission?


Hi Mark

Congrats! My question is how much did Hotels.ng make in revenues last year? Can’t seem to find this info anywhere



Have you ever had to fire anyone? When was the last time you hired someone? What do they do and are there any job openings for a new graduate?


Congrats! what an inspiring feat!

How did you manage to market the platform across the 36 states. Did you form your own marketing team on a temp / ongoing contract?


Here late. Most of the questions I would have asked have been asked and answered.
Let’s just…


Hi Mark,
We all know money isn’t always the most important thing when starting a business but I’d like to know how much you had when you started.
Did you have any other regular income from elsewhere at the time or a stash of cash?
Also what particular scenario/situation would have made you quit and after how many months/years that would have made you conclude that your business wouldn’t be successful.

Nice work you’re doing.


No, we were not required to register the company in the U.S. Due diligence was a LOT of documentation. The checklists had things like 50 requests for documents. It took many weeks to get all the documentation together.


Hi Kemi,

Some answers:

– There are technical means to solve communication issues. It’s part of the ‘secret sauce’ that helps us succeed where the international brands failed.

– Just constant cross-checking on hotel prices

– We help hotels portray themselves in the best possible light

– We don’t intend getting any more office space across Nigeria. One office is enough

– Airbnb is certainly an inspiration in more ways than one!


– Hotels.ng is built on a simple stack: PHP with MySQL and Sphinx.
– We use a dedicated server actually
– Sometimes smartphones are good enough. Sometimes very professional cameras!

Where is the best place to host .ng websites?
  1. I think about 5% of Nigerians right now use hotel reservation agencies online. We have a huge space for growth in front of us.

  2. Read the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg

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