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My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything - Business (3) - Nairaland

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My Startup Journey / Problem With My Startup / Nigeria’s Hotels.ng Grabs $1.2M To Expand Listings Across Africa (2) (3) (4)

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Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by theSpark(m): 10:33am On May 28, 2015
Hi Markessien.

You mentioned you started in calabar but from the writeup I understand your startup is now Lagos based.

How much has moving to Lagos been of benefit to you and your company? Can it be said that Lagos is the land of promise for startups?

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by anonimi: 10:34am On May 28, 2015
Setaje:
Hello Mark. I have done an interview with you before. In your office around alagomeji if am not mistaken. It was one of my worst interviews ever. I was nervous for reasons best known to me. That was early last year. Heard about the interview from a friend who was working at iroko tv. I didn't even no the post I was applying for but I just sent in my application. I new I won't be called back. I would like to have another chance to prove myself haven gotten a bit of experience.


I hope you post vacancies here on nairaland. Thankyou.


with that your dp ehn shocked lipsrsealed undecided
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by echoedwalls: 10:35am On May 28, 2015
Great job mate!
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Jarus(m): 10:36am On May 28, 2015
Good to see you here, Mark.

I have read about you and your startup in the last two years and I'm impressed.

I also recently floated a startup, JarusHub, a career consulting startup.

I got three partners, and I the lead partner.

We have put close to N2m ($10k) to it to date (we rented and furnished our office for close to N1m).

We prefer to grow organically, but we don't mind external funding as our expansion drive is limited by finances now.


What is your experience sourcing fund?

What is your revenue model?

11 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Nobody: 10:36am On May 28, 2015
I used your portal to look for hotels months ago when i had to travel to Lagos. Its well put together but i would suggest that phone numbers to each hotels be included. I wanted to call the reception of any of the hotels i saw so i could confirm if there was still bed space available as we were to arrive at night. There was no phone number listed in any of these hotels so i couldn't call any to confirm. I just used the address i saw and traced them. Some of them lie about their distance from the airport and services they provide. The one i stayed claimed that they are 7 minutes from the airport whereas it took us atleast 30 minutes to get there without traffic on the way. The hotel i ended up in had some issues i tried to raise in its review but most of the words i wrote were hidden.
Those are my points. Thank you.

15 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Jarus(m): 10:37am On May 28, 2015
Our office is also at Alagomeji in Yaba. I see majority of Nigerian startups prefer their offices in Yaba, now styled Silicon valley of Nigeria.

5 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by 400billionman: 10:39am On May 28, 2015
markessien:
Hello Guys,

I am Mark Essien, the founder of Hotels.ng and Hotels.ng just raised $1.2m in funding from international investors. I started this business on my own two years ago in Calabar, and now we have become a big business. Hopefully, some people will read this and know that it's possible to be innovative, creative and build something from nothing in a few years.


http://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2015/05/26/nigerias-hotels-ng-raises-1-2-million/

Questions that people have asked me and answers. If you have any other questions, ask below and I will reply.

What's your view on competition? How closely do you follow what Wakanow, Travelstart, etc., are doing relative to hotels.ng?

Competition is necessary 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.

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?

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

As an entrepreneur, getting the right staff is usually a challenge. How do you get talented people? What is your recruiting trick for finding great staff?

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

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?
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 luck, we crossed that bridge.

What would you do differently if you were starting over today?
Differently - I would have avoided doing things that are side-experiments and been more focused on the main thing.

How many percent of your company did you have to give up for $1.2million. Do you own controlling shares?
Right now, I own more of the company than if I had no investment, but I had a co-founder.

Who are your senior management team? In every conversation about Hotels I only hear about you the founder, never about the team.
So far we have operated without a 'senior' management team. But that is about changing. Expect some news here.

Did you choose your investors or did they choose you? I am personally working on a service and trying to decide who my investors should be.
We chose each other, just like a marriage

Tell us three business development hacks you used to stay afloat while you raised money..?
1. staying very focused on what would contribute to bottom line and what would not

2. Implementing performance based compensation across board

3. 3. Deferring expenses that were not critical.

What is it about hotels culture that has made you successful and how will you keep it consistent as you scale.
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.

Do you consider yourself a technology company or a hotel booking service?
We are 100% a technology company.

What inspired you to start Hotels.ng?
I was inspired by wanting to do something in tech in Nigeria, and seeing a big open market

Here's my question before you received funding from spark how many employees did you have?
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.

---
If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I will answer them all!

Me and the team

Use it and buy Rolls Royce phantom..

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by myklangelo(m): 10:40am On May 28, 2015
my Bro congrats... A man with a vision is better than a man with billions in his account. Your vision n creativity is paying off,I pray mine does same.

The 1st Igbo language blog is out, it is fun and insightful. Visit, comment, share and criticize.www.odeniigbo.

3 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by sharpman1(m): 10:44am On May 28, 2015
Hello Mark. Great Job! You are a motivation.

Just one question,

What is the advantage of booking the hotels through your site as against calling them myself and making my reservations over the phone? Is it cheaper to book through your site...........

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Setaje(f): 10:46am On May 28, 2015
olatricia:
Like seriously!!!! Wat kind of dps are those?
live and let live!. tongue

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by haibe(m): 10:47am On May 28, 2015
Just read the winners candidates reply to those interview questions. . Well what can I say, that guy is really smart
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Setaje(f): 10:48am On May 28, 2015
anonimi:



with that your dp ehn shocked lipsrsealed undecided


What is wrong wiv my dp angry
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by haibe(m): 10:49am On May 28, 2015
tellwisdom:


Are you poor??...1.2 million is nothing compared to the amount few men are making yearly.
yea.. like mikel obi cheesy.. and the guy comes to nairaland wella sef.. just that not everyone knows

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by haibe(m): 10:50am On May 28, 2015
Setaje:



What is wrong wiv my dp angry
sorry but what sort of DP is that? undecided

Those that liked it need to be hung on a tree and castrated.. ewww..

2 Likes 1 Share

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by CashdownNG: 10:52am On May 28, 2015
bukkytroni:
Honestly at MarkEssien, thank you for your contribution to the entrepreneurial space. Your story is a huge breath of fresh air.
As regards funding, would like to know what more rounds of fund raising you are looking to and what your projections are. I have a few foreign tech PEs who will be interested in brilliant opportunities like yours and may want to consider co-investing.
You could PM me for further discussions.

Congrats for what you are doing and the landmark feat.

Saw your comment and wondered is it only obviously successful companies that VCs invest in? or do they take a chance on other ideas or more importantly budding businesses to get a sizable stake at lesser cost?

your reply would be welcome

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Orikinla(m): 10:52am On May 28, 2015
Congratulations Mark.
I thank God for you.
Omidyar Network has boosted the innovations of very creative young Nigerians, including Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters and BudgIT.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by tellwisdom: 10:53am On May 28, 2015
haibe:
yea.. like mikel obi cheesy.. and the guy comes to nairaland wella sef.. just that not everyone knows

Gbossaaaaa sad
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by adaweezy(m): 10:53am On May 28, 2015
Setaje:



What is wrong wiv my dp angry
everything
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by anonimi: 10:56am On May 28, 2015
Setaje:
What is wrong wiv my dp angry

DEPENDING on the type of work you are looking for, nothing is wrong with it smiley
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Setaje(f): 10:56am On May 28, 2015
adaweezy:

everything


OK. Then don't look
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Setaje(f): 10:58am On May 28, 2015
haibe:
sorry but what sort of DP is that? undecided

Those that liked it need to be hung on a tree and castrated.. ewww..


Please don't ruin this great topic. Live my dp alone. If it offends u. Don't look. Those that liked it saw something u obviously cannot see. grin

3 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by ghettodreamz(m): 10:58am On May 28, 2015
markessien:
Hopefully, some people will read this and know that it's possible to be innovative, creative and build something from nothing in a few years.

I love this, kudos to you and your team. The next few lines are questions I would like you do justice to;


#1. Were you self-taught developer or did you learn coding within the four walls of a school?

#2. Is Hotels.ng your first shot at startup? Any other failed attempt(s) to share?

#3. What's starting out like for you? I mean, from infancy as a coder to the birthing of hotels.ng.

#4. How long does it take before you signed on your first client?

#5. After landing your first client, in terms of financing, how much did you start out with?

#6. How long does it take and what does it take getting your first seed capital?

#7. What are the 'top three pieces of advice' you would give to other upcoming startup visionaries?

#8. Has the thought of 'throw in the towel' ever crossed through your mind at some points when things weren't going as you'd planned for?

#9. If so, what has been your utmost source of motivation(s) (be it self-motivation, et al) or driving force?

#10. On the scale of 1-10, how would you rate the status quo of IT as an industry in Nigeria? And what's the way forward in pushing it to a standard where it could rub shoulders with those from other developing/developed nations?


Wishing you all the very best in your future pursuits.

10 Likes 1 Share

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Setaje(f): 10:58am On May 28, 2015
anonimi:


DEPENDING on the type of work you are looking for, nothing is wrong with it smiley


OK what kind of work is suited for my dp?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by PapaBrowne(m): 10:59am On May 28, 2015
Question coming.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by ddeston(m): 11:00am On May 28, 2015
@marKessien I love what you are doing.
I have a question for you.

I have this not so unique idea that I want to kick off the ground. But initial funds is the problem how do I get a coder to partner with me as am more of a marketer than a coder?

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by idupaul: 11:01am On May 28, 2015
tellwisdom:


Are you poor??...1.2 million is nothing compared to the amount few men are making yearly.

Owu de blow people for Nairaland sha.

5 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by iebanehita(m): 11:04am On May 28, 2015
markessien:


Hotels.ng compares favorably with all competitors in terms of number of hotels and bookings. We were here before all the others and have been able to maintain the top position through the years.


Top position?
I would have to disagree with you on this.

I have worked with hotels.ng as a freelancer and with Jovago.com and I can categorically say that Jovago.com is way popular and has claimed several awards, including No.1 hotel booking site in Nigeria and has already expanded to Ghana, Kenya and other African Countries, despite hotels.ng starting before her.

Congratulations also, on your recent breakthrough.

cc: MRBrownJ

3 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Chuks84(m): 11:06am On May 28, 2015
I just want to commend seun and mark essien on this. This is what nairaland should be about; sharing educative and success stories and encouraging our youths to aspire for more.

4 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Olucheye(m): 11:09am On May 28, 2015
I'm impressed with the giant strides Mark Essien made with Hotels.Ng

Kudos sir!


I'm not sure if this would derail this thread, but i'm in search of a Female Co-Founder for a tech startup biz.

Do you have what it takes to build a business from scratch?
Kindly mention me.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Dreambeat: 11:09am On May 28, 2015
Great one from you Mark Essien.As a novice who would like to start up an online business,what basic IT knowledge must the person have apart from the ability to surf the web?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Decryptor(m): 11:10am On May 28, 2015
If Mr Essien had blamed GEJ back in 2013 like some woeful people here on NL, he wouldn't have gotten to where he is today.

Moral of he story: Stand up and do something with your hands rather than waiting for Buhari to "CHANGE" your life after May 29th.

8 Likes 1 Share

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by AZeD1(m): 11:13am On May 28, 2015
markessien / Seun
1) What's your technology stack?
2) How many times do you deploy(day/week/month)?
3) How are bugs (non critical) handled fix immediately or wait the next deployment window?
4) On technology side of things, what has been your 'aha' moment?

1 Like

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