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My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything - Business (4) - 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 Chuks84(m): 11:13am On May 28, 2015
Decryptor:
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.

Must everything be politicized!!! what does buhari and GEJ have to do with this?? Please stop being juvenile.

6 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Nobody: 11:13am On May 28, 2015
Hello Markessien pls can you invest on my startup? Tis a digital storytelling startup i may not be able to reveal confidential details here.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by CashdownNG: 11:15am On May 28, 2015
Olucheye:
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.

must it be female? I doubt anyone ever had such stringent requirements for a co founder...
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by tellwisdom: 11:17am On May 28, 2015
idupaul:


Owu de blow people for Nairaland sha.

Imagine him saying, "the Op still has time coming to nairaland even with the 1.2 million dolls he has accumulated. Shoro ni yen?? sad

3 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by olatricia(m): 11:18am On May 28, 2015
Good to hear your story Mr. M.E.! I actually got an invite for an interview from your company, I never really had a double mind about attending the interview or perhaps working with you (I once worked with an entrepreneur, the experience was tasking, thrilling and fulfilling. Infact, that singular experience brought me thus far in my field of career). But I may never attend the interview. Now that you are here, I guess it's better for me to say this. The best hands you require as employee to fill some roles in your organization (especially finance roles) are mostly likely engaged (because they are better than many). Hence, finding them means that you might have to bend some recruitment fallacies. For instance, conducting an interview on a working weekday, during a peak working time has the following implications:
1. the attendees are either entry level who are not very engaged at the moment. They have all the time to be present and are most likely desperate for/to get the job. Note that they are crude, fresh and may require extra training to fit in.
2. the attendees, if employed would have to tell a lie at their present work place, to carve out time to attend the interview. Hence, they are under duress and undue pressure which will significantly impair on their performance.
3. the invitees who are capable and sound for the role may not even bother to attend (despite their interest in the job) because they are at their respective duty post doing what they do best. Hence, you the interviewer miss out on this few ones.
In my own opinion, which strictly is mine. I'll propose you conduct your interviews on weekends (Saturdays). This would allow an ample pool of candidates to be present from various cadre of competence and you the employer would have a well represented cluster to pick from.
My submission. Thank you!

8 Likes 1 Share

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by ghettodreamz(m): 11:19am On May 28, 2015
Setaje:



What is wrong wiv my dp angry

Sorry, just feel like putting this down. A lot of things is wrong with it, and might not portray you in a good light (weirdo - no offense) to a prospective employer. If for any other thread, I might be indifferent about this. Anyways, still your profile and your dp.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Nobody: 11:20am On May 28, 2015
markessien:
Hello Guys,



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

Me and the team

Hello mark Essien, any ideas you can give on staying profitable, and what marketing strategy did you employ in starting and growing the business?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by eagleeye2: 11:23am On May 28, 2015
myklangelo:
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.
You just put a smile to my face. I have been sick since yesterday, and reading this just made me smile.



.
Ndewo nwanne m. Jisie ike.

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by CashdownNG: 11:27am On May 28, 2015
@markessien I'm sure your mentions ate up in the clouds but I'll like you to check out a startup. Cashdown Nigeria. it's about a year old and making revenue.

most importantly, it's an innovation worth looking at. anyone else interested in putting money into businesses rather than mere ideas kindly mention me or hit me up via PM.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Olucheye(m): 11:31am On May 28, 2015
CashdownNG:


must it be female? I doubt anyone ever had such stringent requirements for a co founder...

A part of my startup entails into satisfaction of women needs hence why i said the need for a female co-founder.
A sound lady would be best suit the profile of who i want. However, a male mind with grasp of women needs would be welcomed.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Olucheye(m): 11:32am On May 28, 2015
CashdownNG:


must it be female? I doubt anyone ever had such stringent requirements for a co founder...

A part of my startup entails into satisfaction of women needs hence why i said the need for a female co-founder.
A sound lady would be best suit the profile of who i want. However, a male mind with grasp of women needs would be welcomed.

What kind of startup are you into by the way?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by mbulela: 11:33am On May 28, 2015
myklangelo:
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.

Some huge effort you have put in there.
Well done and may your just reward come in the future.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by ghettodreamz(m): 11:34am On May 28, 2015
Bossforeva:
Hello Markessien pls can you invest on my startup? Tis a digital storytelling startup i may not be able to reveal confidential details here.

Off topic - For people to take your startup idea or business entity serious I would advise you go for .com extension and not the .net
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Nobody: 11:36am On May 28, 2015
Chuks84:
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.

For your information,
This topic is not encouraging our youths to aspiring more but rather an advertisement. If you analyze it the other way, it is a business strategy to bring more awareness about a particular product. I have work with most company and we usually do this kind of thing.


Let me tell you a dark secret, after two to three days you will forget his story but his company name will stick to your head (awareness of his product)

No company will encourage our youths, you only encourage yourself or work to be something meaningful to the sociality

15 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by CashdownNG: 11:38am On May 28, 2015
Olucheye:


A part of my startup entails into satisfaction of women needs hence why i said the need for a female co-founder.
A sound lady would be best suit the profile of who i want. However, a male mind with grasp of women needs would be welcomed.

What kind of startup are you into by the way?

oh, it's an online/offline pawnshop. Cashdown Nigeria where users either sell or deposit their goods for money. it saves time and offers secure transactions.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Setaje(f): 11:38am On May 28, 2015
ghettodreamz:


Sorry, just feel like putting this down. A lot of things is wrong with it, and might not portray you in a good light (weirdo - no offense) to a prospective employer. If for any other thread, I might be indifferent about this. Anyways, still your profile and your dp.


OK thankyou.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by olatricia(m): 11:39am On May 28, 2015
This is not living and let living. This is an horror film!
Setaje:
live and let live!. tongue
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Edigrows: 11:41am On May 28, 2015
wow, good to have you here markessien
heard about you for first time from Mr Seun
Then I traced you over at TechCabal, I was even part of the Ask me anything on the Radar
I don't know if he invited you over or you came yourself, but this shows you are down to earth.
I am happy to see you on Our NL Frontpage

My few Question:
1. What were the major Factors you needed to prove to your investors to win their heart, I mean the $1.2m funding. Some of these Investors need extra-powerful convincing you know? They can be quite tough.

2. I follow you on Twitter, you tweeted about hiring someone, What's the Criteria of getting hired? How can myself and everyone else Here partake in or contribute to hotels. ng

Once again, thanks for coming here Sir smiley
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by ghettodreamz(m): 11:41am On May 28, 2015
Setaje:



OK thankyou.

You are welcome.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Setaje(f): 11:41am On May 28, 2015
olatricia:
This is not living and let living. This is an horror film!


OK. We see differently.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Olucheye(m): 11:42am On May 28, 2015
CashdownNG:


oh, it's an online/offline pawnshop. Cashdown Nigeria where users either sell or deposit their goods for money. it saves time and offers secure transactions.

That's a good one. A Pawnshop is long overdue in Nigeria
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by ghettodreamz(m): 11:44am On May 28, 2015
Olucheye:


A part of my startup entails into satisfaction of women needs hence why i said the need for a female co-founder.
A sound lady would be best suit the profile of who i want. However, a male mind with grasp of women needs would be welcomed.

What kind of startup are you into by the way?


And you expect to find this caliber of ladies right here on NL, where most of its females could be found discussing in the romance section? cheesy grin


#NoOffense2LadiesWithSoundMinds

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Nobody: 11:45am On May 28, 2015
Hello Mark, am gonna be a graduate by God's grace this year, I don't wanna stay idle at home so am planning on starting an online business. What made you choose hotels reservation and how did you expose yourself to the society?. How long did it take to get your first client and did you have a ground office or you just started online?.. Can you mentor me personally?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Nobody: 11:47am On May 28, 2015
ghettodreamz:


Off topic - For people to take your startup idea or business entity serious I would advise you go for .com extension and not the .net
how do you know that am thinking of .net and bros, what do you have to say in this case where investors took the Ops .NG sriously?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by elohorayodele: 11:48am 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

congrats
your story is really inspirational
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by ghettodreamz(m): 11:48am On May 28, 2015
myklangelo:
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.

Though, I have seen something similar to what you are doing elsewhere BUT don't give up. It's a good niche and I pray it flourishes into something BIG for you someday. Amen
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by SamjohnnyB(m): 11:48am On May 28, 2015


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

Me and the team

Great job
My question is
How do u feel when u make ur first one million naira ?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by dokunbam(m): 11:49am On May 28, 2015
markessien:


The secret is that we were in the right market, with someone that knew how to build a product to serve the market. Market is the most important thing.

What technology did you use for the application?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Olucheye(m): 11:55am On May 28, 2015
ghettodreamz:



And you expect to find this caliber of ladies right here on NL, where most of its females could be found discussing in the romance section? cheesy grin


#NoOffense2LadiesWithSoundMinds


hence why i hopped on this thread. Not most ladies on the Romance section are dullards though...i've at some point had a chat with one of them, MizMyColi, she was sound.

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by lordhugo(m): 11:55am On May 28, 2015
MarkEssien, congrats first of all!

1. Do you have an online travel aggregator system that queries the realtime hotel system if specific customer needs are available?

2. If the answer to 1 above is yes, do you understand the challenges posed as most hotels in Nigeria do not have a seamless internet structure that adapts to your OTA.

3. Customer acquisition and customer loyalty plays a big part in this niche. Hope you got them covered?

4. Online portal travel agencies do face the challenges of 'DROPPED BOOKINGS and BAD ROOMS' especially when they aren't properly synchronized with the hotel, they may book customers rooms that aren’t available. Arriving with luggage in hand only to find out the rooms are booked is definitely an unexpected inconvenience. (I would suggest having 'field officers' to handle different predetermined delineated geographical areas).

Mention me when replying.

Cheers.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by ghettodreamz(m): 11:56am On May 28, 2015
Bossforeva:
how do you know that am thinking of .net and bros, what do you have to say in this case where investors took the Ops .NG sriously?

Easy bro, no offense whatsoever is meant. Just a piece of advice taken wrongly, I guess undecided To answer your Q on how, I went through your signature and landed on starttell.net I guess that's not your domain, right? Secondly, .NG is a CCTLD domain name extension for Nigeria, just like .US is for USA and .CA is for Canada. Op's startup is one domiciled in Nigeria, as such investors wouldn't have had problem taking him serious.

I hope this explains my previous point clearly. All the same, sorry if I was being misunderstood.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by gabinogem(m): 12:02pm On May 28, 2015
olatricia:
Like seriously!!!! Wat kind of dps are those?

I think she's a clown or some sort of jester...

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