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#BellaNaijaMCM: Mark Essien of Hotels.ng is helping Nigerians find & book Hotel rooms with Ease

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#BellaNaijaMCM: Mark Essien of Hotels.ng is helping Nigerians find & book Hotels with Ease

Mark Essien‘s – our #BellaNaijaMCM this week – company, Hotels.ng, does not have a hotel to its name, but it is one of the biggest hotel businesses on the African continent.

After his primary and secondary education in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom state, Mark moved to Germany, where he obtained his Bachelors (Computer Engineering) and Masters (Computer Science) degrees.

While undergoing a pre-university study in Germany, Mark worked night shifts, taking care of a paralysed man. The job required him to be awake and watchful most of the time, and to correct slumps and ensure that his ward doesn’t have any life-threatening complications at any time. So Mark would spend the entire night actively learning and writing code to keep awake.

In 3 months, Mark created a file sharing software Gnumm, which was acquired by Snoopstar. Mark worked for Snoopstar for sometime before leaving to build his own products and work freelance as a software developer.

Mark also designed and developed one of the first MPEG Encoder software for the DirectShow platform. He sold the software to a lot of large companies, including Disney and the American military.

After completing his B.Sc, Mark began thinking of building a tech platform that would work in Nigeria. He decided to disrupt the travel space in Nigeria and before enrolling for his masters programme, he created the first version of Hotels.ng, just a list of hotels at the time.

He later created a dummy hotel booking site which began attracting traffic – that was when he decided to go fully into the business. In 2013, after his masters programme, he came back to Nigeria to start Hotels.ng in Calabar.

He later caught the attention of iROKO TV founder Jason Njoku, who, through his spark.ng platform, made an initial investment of $75,000, and later, another investment of $150,000.

In 2015, Hotels.ng secured additional investment funding of $1.2m from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar‘s investment vehicle – Omidyar Network – and seed-stage technology fund EchoVC Pan-Africa Fund.

Mark started the company with $300 and about 150 hotels, and today, it has sold hotel rooms worth billions of naira across the country with about 10,000 hotels on its platform.

The Hotels.ng platform also operates a travel blog where relevant information on cities in Nigeria as well as visa tips for Nigerians who intend to travel outside the country can be found.

In January 2016, Hotels.ng launched the #ThisYearIMustVisit campaign to spotlight some of the lesser-known tourist destinations in Nigeria.

The company also runs the #RestoreOur Campaign, a collaborative project trying to rehabilitate iconic landmarks in the country.

Early this year, Mark started HNG Interns programme, which trains young tech enthusiasts on how to code, using contemporary tools.

Mark was featured in Forbes‘ 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa list of 2015 and has been featured in BBC and Newsweek.

Well done Mark!

16 Comments

  1. Yemi Osinowo

    November 13, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    I met Mark Essien sometime in 2015, when he needed a finance person for his hotels.ng business. Great young man with vision. Well Done, Mark.

  2. Netizen

    November 13, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Please is he married? Asking for a friend.

    • Ephi

      November 13, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      😀 It’s okay if you’re asking for yourself. Just kidding.

      I have read Mark’s story before and find it very inspiring that he has managed to make his dreams come to reality despite the tough environment in Nigeria. All the best to him.

    • Gidi

      November 13, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      Very Married

    • Netizen

      November 13, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      lol @ephi a girl can dream. I am team laiskeen, average height and this dude right here is just my type. Believe me, the picture does not do him justice. I saw him up close recently but retreated sharp sharp. Yeah, I’m also one of those who run away from their eye-candy. I won’t next time though if there ever is lol.

    • Netizen

      November 13, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Wikipedia says he’s married. Bye bye Mark ;(

    • Ephi

      November 13, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Noooo, you shouldn’t run away! you never could tell… Mark is taken but someone else who has what you want would come on-board and you should go for it! Rooting for you..

    • Osa

      November 13, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      @Netizen pls dont make his wife’s heart do “gbim gbim gbim”. This your innocent comment has the power to do just that. ??????
      Good looking guy hard to marry o. I no envy the wife one kobo. Heart no go dey at peace

  3. Loki

    November 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Didn’t even bother to read the article. Not interested. I would like to discuss with him PERSONALLY just how uninterested I am.

  4. sarcasm

    November 13, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Everyone loves a winner.

    He most probably got married to the girl who was dating him while he was working night shifts taking care of the paralysed man.

    • Puzzles

      November 14, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Not all men marry the girl they were dating when they had nothing/or just beginning. Know real life experiences where the guy dumps the girl who hustled with them to marry someone else.

  5. Officialranter1

    November 13, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Mark, you look delicious. And I am hungry.

    • Ada Jones

      November 14, 2017 at 3:33 am

      He is married. He is taken. Look somewhere else.

  6. largerthanlifealice.com

    November 14, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    such a baby boy…..do you have an owner ??

  7. Sisi

    November 14, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    I don’t know him but I’m proud to read this. Proud of his forward thinking, proud of his grind, proud of his humility and kindness (it’s not all that would take such a job to get them through studies). I am also grateful for his intelligence. God bless you the more Mark, I pray your legacy will be greater than this.

  8. Engoz

    November 14, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    How can we have this kind of upwardly mobile people in Nigeria, but when it comes to government it is the most downwardly and backwardly mobile entities that populate it?

    My hypothesis is The excesssalary of ou

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