Mark Essien is reaping the fruits of hard work and resilience as his Hotels.ng continues to wax stronger.
Hotels.ng is an online hotel booking platform where anyone can browse through thousands of hotels and book their desired rooms.
Mark Esssien founded Hotels.ng in 2013, and the organisation has turned out to become Nigeria’s largest hotel booking website.
The 40-year-old Essien studied in Germany and returned to set up Hotels.ng, having found that this was a virgin area at that time.
He raised $250,000’s seed fund from Jason Njoku’s SPARK in 2013, but the fund almost got exhausted along the line because most of it was going into salaries. But it is a different story today, having secured more international funds.
The online portal allows people from all over the world to book rooms from a selection of over thousands of hotels. It is easier and convenient for tourists and those who need hotels, meaning that there is a high potential for growth.
Like Uber, Bolt and many others who provide car-hailing services without owing one car, Essien’s Hotels.ng rakes in millions from bookings without owning a building.
His ingenuity could be traced to Germany where he acquired his university education. Mark Essien has a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng) in Computer Hardware Engineering from Beuth Hochschule Berlin, Germany and M.Sc. in Computer Science from Freie Universitat, Berlin, Germany.
While in Germany, Essien developed a file sharing software, Gnumm, which was later acquired by Snoopstar.com. He worked briefly with the firm before becoming a freelance software developer. What he learnt from this firm helped in the formation of Hotels.ng.
He created the first version of Hotels.ng in 2012 which was just a list of hotels at the time. He observed a heavy traffic from people across the world, convincing him that he was in good business.
Hotels.ng has launched Hotel.africa and a corresponding flights service, Fly.africa. It has over 30,000 hotels across Africa, covering Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, among others.
Hotels.ng and Spark.ng invested in an online startup, OgaVenue, in 2016. This is an event venue booking platform with over 8,000 event venues across Nigeria.
Essien is a man with sound business acumen. In 2017, he Tweeted a quote that is popular among Nigerian entrepreneurs.
“If one client is 50 percent of your revenue, you are not a business, you are a department,” he had posted.
His logic is that business revenue should be spread to avoid shocks that could lead to shut-downs if the client was no more available for business.
Essien is estimated to be worth $10million. He has over 150 staff members who are constantly searching for new opportunities and serving hotels and customers across Nigeria.
He recently co-founded HNG Internship, a firm that provides free internship to Africans interested in coding. He stepped down as CEO of the firm in August 2019 and was replaced by Seyi Fade, an expert in coding.
HNG internship programme lasts basically for three months. It remotely recruits and trains the most talented software developers across Africa. The internship is free.
Essien said the vision of the company was to “massively accelerate Nigerians and Africans becoming software developers.”
Forbes said the HNG Internship started when Essien wanted to hire three local developers.
“The search was challenging, however he eventually found three talented individuals who were also keen to develop their technical skills,” Forbes said.
“The next year, he decided to advertise the programme and 170 people applied. Rather than filtering through CVs, he gave the applicants a technical task and each day he eliminated the weakest 10. Eventually, he was left with 10 candidates who proved to be exceptional interns,” Forbes further said.
With a huge number of people across the world booking hotels on daily basis, Essien’s business is seen as the right one.
Booking.com is one of Hotels.ng’s biggest competitors.
Booking.com’s revenues for the second quarter of 2019 stood at $3.9 billion, a 9 percent increase from the prior year.
Tivago, a hotel booking firm owned by Expedia, earned revenues of $1.008 billion in 2018. Expedia raked in $11.2 billion in 2018.
Trip Advisor earned $1.56 billion in revenue in 2019.
Hotels.ng is waxing stronger and it is seen as a million-dollar online company already—with more growth potential.