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My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything - Business (8) - 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 DExplorer1: 5:29am On May 29, 2015
lordhugo:


Oga Suraj, I now have a clearer picture!
Investing in an office space which doubles/houses classrooms/training spaces was relevant to your line of business and actually a case of "killing two birds with one stone".

However, allocating such a high percentage of outlay to rent and furnishings was probably not the best step sir.
Its percentage ratio should have been smaller, so as to accommodate operating expenses and then grow organically.
"Income is opinion but cash is fact." Operating expenses directly reduce the Operating Cash Flow (OCF) of the company.
You are right. You need more money.

I enjoy your career related pieces by the way.
Maybe we halt a little from theories and business principles and lets be more practical in our analysis. Using Jarus as a case-study, a million in Nigeria is no money considering what it's going for; a 'double office.'

1) There are some locations you'd have as an office address and business-minded people won't take you serious.

Also, taking into consideration that you're dealing with people from various angles/directions (an academy). Hence, he must have thought of a central-office and a fairly affordable space.

Before we had an office on Tunde Gafar close at Ikeja, we saw little shops with an annual rent of N500,000. Imagine the space, and imagine adding the rent of a mini-hall to that, that's murder for any start-ups. Ofcourse, i read the principle of "sellers go where buyers are" but what if i'd thought of Victoria Island? LOL

I think a 'double-office' on a fairly-competed location is not an over-kill for a million.

2) Let me tag everything in the office as the equipments. Some offices could generate good figures with just two desks, a standing fan and a television, some won't. In as much as cost cutting is very important, it shouldn't be at the expense of what makes your business thick. A simple example, imagine a supposed standard academy without a projector?

3) The model of any business determines the structure. No matter how far you go on low-spending, something must be spent. Now, if in 2years, the model of a business could not justify the structure, the blueprint would have to be re-considered.

4) Another addition to cost is staff payment. In regards, a startup with just a staff is moderate except it's for charity.

3 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by lordhugo(m): 7:39am On May 29, 2015
DExplorer1:

Maybe we halt a little from theories and business principles and lets be more practical in our analysis. Using Jarus as a case-study, a million in Nigeria is no money considering what it's going for; a 'double office.'

1) There are some locations you'd have as an office address and business-minded people won't take you serious.

Also, taking into consideration that you're dealing with people from various angles/directions (an academy). Hence, he must have thought of a central-office and a fairly affordable space.

Before we had an office on Tunde Gafar close at Ikeja, we saw little shops with an annual rent of N500,000. Imagine the space, and imagine adding the rent of a mini-hall to that, that's murder for any start-ups. Ofcourse, i read the principle of "sellers go where buyers are" but what if i'd thought of Victoria Island? LOL

I think a 'double-office' on a fairly-competed location is not an over-kill for a million.

2) Let me tag everything in the office as the equipments. Some offices could generate good figures with just two desks, a standing fan and a television, some won't. In as much as cost cutting is very important, it shouldn't be at the expense of what makes your business thick. A simple example, imagine a supposed standard academy without a projector?

3) The model of any business determines the structure. No matter how far you go on low-spending, something must be spent. Now, if in 2years, the model of a business could not justify the structure, the blueprint would have to be re-considered.

4) Another addition to cost is staff payment. In regards, a startup with just a staff is moderate except it's for charity.

Wonderful points sir!
Ikeja you mentioned? Too expensive for a startup with "Limited funds".
To avoid financial bottlenecks, a 2-3 year plan should be drawn up and scarce resources cross refrenced with scae of preference.

You said Ikeja is a "fairly competed" location. If by that you mean competition is high, why should i a small startup drown in the cacophony of the bigger players?

In my opinion, a Surulere or Festac should create a right balance between Capex and Opex (capital expenditure and operating expenditure) and a fairly large " educated and unemployed" customer base.

More people residing in Victoria island already hold jobs.
In your words, "Sellers go to where buyers are".

THE BUYERS FOR A STARTUP CAREEER ACADEMY ARE IN MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES IN DENSELY POPULATED AREAS.

....and that is being practical without throwing theories out the window.

Happy democracy day to you sir.

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Jarus(m): 8:13am On May 29, 2015
lordhugo:


Wonderful points sir!
Ikeja you mentioned? Too expensive for a startup with "Limited funds".
To avoid financial bottlenecks, a 2-3 year plan should be drawn up and scarce resources cross refrenced with scae of preference.

You said Ikeja is a "fairly competed" location. If by that you mean competition is high, why should i a small startup drown in the cacophony of the bigger players?

In my opinion, a Surulere or Festac should create a right balance between Capex and Opex (capital expenditure and operating expenditure) and a fairly large " educated and unemployed" customer base.

More people residing in Victoria island already hold jobs.
In your words, "Sellers go to where buyers are".

THE BUYERS FOR A STARTUP CAREEER ACADEMY ARE IN MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES IN DENSELY POPULATED AREAS.

....and that is being practical without throwing theories out the window.

Happy democracy day to you sir.



We never thought of and we would never consider VI. VI is not for startups, but already well established companies.

I think Yaba, Surulere and Ikeja are ok for startups, but I think Yaba is the best for many reasons - it is closer to both Island and mainland, somehow central, a large concentration of middle class, hub of higher institutions (UNILAG, YABATECH, FCE etc).

Plus there is location economies due to its closeness to many other startups. Mark's Hotels.ng is there, Insidify is there, Jobmag is there etc. I can easily walk into any of them to have a chat with the founders and strike networking relationship etc

See the list of notable startups in Yaba according to Wikipedia

Braintem.org
500 Shops
Autobox
Asa
Beat Traffik
Budgit
Church+
Efiko
Hotels.ng
Jobs in Nigeria
Kaymu
Konga
Meditell
Insidify
Passnownow
PushCV
Prep Class
PrivateProperty.com.ng
Prowork
Talking Bookz
Traclist
Truppr
VacantBoards
Wecyclers
Tutor
Washist.com
Waracake.com
Wayopedia
Photographers in Nigeria
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yabacon_Valley

So I don't think it's a coincidence.

4 Likes 1 Share

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by FBS: 8:24am On May 29, 2015
markessien:


Very accurate number! It will be 10,000 before long!
Thanks. I ask because some of the hotels don't even have contact details. Not even a photo/picture of the hotel or facilities. Just some "pillow" thumbnail.



You sure that is accurate?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Jarus(m): 8:24am On May 29, 2015
Still on our JARUSHUB case study, the ratio of our rent to total investment remains high at 50% now because we have spent less on the other key component of the mix - publicity.

We had some funds, we were faced with option of spending it on office or publicity. We ranked our priority and realized we should set up an office first, because if we spend 1m on publicity, people will be eager to know where are these people, Hope they are not scam etc. In Nigeria people still have some skepticism about online patronage except you're a well established brand like Jumia or Konga or Nairaland.

If you spend money to advertise your offerings, where will people come for your services?

Our model is different from hotels.ng or jobberman, because their services are strictly online, unlike us that have products that require physically meeting clients.

That is why office is critical to us at this phase.

4 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by lordhugo(m): 8:44am On May 29, 2015
Jarus:


We never thought of and we would never consider VI. VI is not for startups, but already well established companies.

I think Yaba, Surulere and Ikeja are ok for startups, but I think Yaba is the best for many reasons - it is closer to both Island and mainland, somehow central, a large concentration of middle class, hub of higher institutions (UNILAG, YABATECH, FCE etc).

Plus there is location economies due to its closeness to many other startups. Mark's Hotels.ng is there, Insidify is there, Jobmag is there etc. I can easily walk into any of them to have a chat with the founders and strike networking relationship etc

See the list of notable startups in Yaba according to Wikipedia

Braintem.org
500 Shops
Autobox
Asa
Beat Traffik
Budgit
Church+
Efiko
Hotels.ng
Jobs in Nigeria
Kaymu
Konga
Meditell
Insidify
Passnownow
PushCV
Prep Class
PrivateProperty.com.ng
Prowork
Talking Bookz
Traclist
Truppr
VacantBoards
Wecyclers
Tutor
Washist.com
Waracake.com
Wayopedia
Photographers in Nigeria
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yabacon_Valley

So I don't think it's a coincidence.

Dexplorer1 talked about V.I not you.

Yaba is a prime location if the points I made are put into consideration. Proximity to higher institutions also brings you closer to customers needing career related solutions.

I merely stated that use of "overpriced" office location without a direct increase in revenue is not the best idea.

Best wishes.

2 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by lordhugo(m): 8:50am On May 29, 2015
FBS:

Thanks. I ask because some of the hotels don't even have contact details. Not even a photo/picture of the hotel or facilities. Just some "pillow" thumbnail.



You sure that is accurate?

Its a growing network so markessien is still generating and sourcing data from those physical locations.

There needs to be an onsite employee who interfaces with hotels in a particular catchment area , shows them that they are already listed (naija mentality, invites them on board , and sources the data.

Them go soon CODE reach that side.

P.S. I am not speaking for Mark. Purely my opinions.

P.P.S. I know not how to code
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by DExplorer1: 9:01am On May 29, 2015
lordhugo:


Wonderful points sir!
Ikeja you mentioned? Too expensive for a startup with "Limited funds".
To avoid financial bottlenecks, a 2-3 year plan should be drawn up and scarce resources cross refrenced with scae of preference.

You said Ikeja is a "fairly competed" location. If by that you mean competition is high, why should i a small startup drown in the cacophony of the bigger players?

In my opinion, a Surulere or Festac should create a right balance between Capex and Opex (capital expenditure and operating expenditure) and a fairly large " educated and unemployed" customer base.

More people residing in Victoria island already hold jobs.
In your words, "Sellers go to where buyers are".

THE BUYERS FOR A STARTUP CAREEER ACADEMY ARE IN MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES IN DENSELY POPULATED AREAS.

....and that is being practical without throwing theories out the window.

Happy democracy day to you sir.


Happy democracy to you too sir.
I actually was referring to Yaba as been fairly-competitive and not Ikeja. You have good points there, though i wouldn't want to continue in discussing the business model of another. The tech-world is complex, many of the complexities are best discussed rather than experienced but of course it makes us better. Several startups are failing but the secret to getting one right is to keep pushing. Enjoy the democracy day!

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by lordhugo(m): 9:14am On May 29, 2015
DExplorer1:

Happy democracy to you too sir.
I actually was referring to Yaba as been fairly-competitive and not Ikeja. You have good points there, though i wouldn't want to continue in discussing the business model of another. The tech-world is complex, many of the complexities are best discussed rather than experienced but of course it makes us better. Several startups are failing but the secret to getting one right is to keep pushing. Enjoy the democracy day!

Apologies for misconstruing you.
Other points remain valid.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by butter(m): 9:14am On May 29, 2015
Clone2020:
I'm a venture capitalist in the U.S also known as an angel investor. How can I invest in your startup?

Hello I sent you a mail request. I have a project you might appreciate given your location that would be of interest to you as an angel investor.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by buemene(m): 9:44am On May 29, 2015
Hello All,

I want to thank you all who have contributed so far to this sane community who make up the real CHANGE MAKERS commenting on this thread. I rarely comment on threads here due to the curses cum comments that trails virtually any thread and posts on Nairaland. So far, I see meaningful, respectful and reasonable contributions that inspires one to aspire. I am thankful to you all for the proper decorum.

To Mark,

I have followed your progress from 2013 and must say I am truly inspired hearing your stories. I have just one question though. You have been asked what your 1, 5 and 10 year plan is for Hotels.ng and your reply seem to say, just keep growing Hotels.ng. my question is, considering what AirBnB (www.airbnb.com) is doing in over 90,000 Cities around the world now i.e disrupting the traditional hotel system and putting that power in the hand of Home Owners, wouldn't a consideration of similar idea in relation to what you do now be an option? Thanks.

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by dokunbam(m): 12:16pm On May 29, 2015
markessien:


PHP

Thanks
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by CashdownNG: 3:58pm On May 29, 2015
Clone2020:
I'm a venture capitalist in the U.S also known as an angel investor. How can I invest in your startup?

Interesting that you're looking for a startup to invest in, how about one smaller but with a good enough earning potential?

kindly revert if interested @ admin@cashdown.com.ng it'll be totally worthwhile
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by kaboninc(m): 4:00pm On May 29, 2015
Happy Democracy Day all!

I want to ask, is hotels.ng really a tech start-up?

For me, I don't think it is. And should markessien agree, the topic needs to be altered.

Thanks.

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by olatricia(m): 9:13am On Jun 01, 2015
whats your e-mail ad?
markessien:


This is an awesome idea! Why not email me, let's meet on saturday?
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by lordhugo(m): 8:53am On Jun 03, 2015
MarkEssien , it has been a while. Some new questions have been asked. Can you take a little time out to answer them?

Best regards,
Hugo
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by laykhorn(m): 4:01pm On Jun 03, 2015
Hi Mark! Good to have you here. I'm a student who has this idea and I think its huge.

- I'm short of funds for now, thereby suspending whatever I have. What do you think I should do? Try get some funds or start first. Like how much would you advise I keep to start?
How do I know If the idea is worthwhile?
.
I've had some experience from my failed download app so I'm not ready to go through a hassle and waste again, what would you advice?
.
Would you recommend any stack and why?
.
Any Regrets at all?
.
What would you recommend any person starting out do first, second and maybe what should be saved for later?
.
Your view on getting publicity too?
.
Any advice for me?
.
What was the journey like?
Would you mind to mentor me? I'd really appreciate.
Thanks
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by shoppinghq: 6:58pm On Jun 03, 2015
Growing and managing a business professionally is impossible without the right people, and yet it is unarguable that most SMEs find it difficult to attract and retain these 'right' people?
Why is this? Well, our well-considered view (explained in detail in "Improving Human Resources" download here https://www.dropbox.com/s/mxnv5wbffbp0e2g/Improving-Human-Resources.pdf?dl=0) is that the answer is NOT primarily the usual complaints we hear from our SME clients e.g. "poor quality of graduates", "Nigerians are not hardworking enough",
Yes, there may be some truth in some of these but our research indicates that the core of the problem is that SMEs themselves do not follow a CONSISTENT RECRUITMENT PROCESS.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Asuokaa: 5:30pm On Jun 11, 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

hi mr essien..nice post
my questions
what were the challenges and the breakthrough

pls check my site http://www.evilla.com.ng, tell me where i can make changes thanks
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by fairheven: 5:09pm On Jun 15, 2015
markessien:


Done!
Please sir, I wud love to know what particular Computer programme u learnt with a view to starting your hotel booking site?

Also I wud like to have your email
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by Nobody: 10:06am On Jun 16, 2015
fairheven:

Please sir, I wud love to know what particular Computer programme u learnt with a view to starting your hotel booking site?

Also I wud like to have your email
Go through the thread. Your questions has been answered already.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by DonX001: 4:47am On Jul 13, 2015
Great thread!
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by mrsage(m): 9:00am On Jul 13, 2015
Mark congrats
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by coolluk(m): 11:18am On Aug 25, 2015
This thread has 7 pages, tonto dikes wedding has more than 10 pages, this clearly states why only youths are wallowing in mediocrity

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by IsaacBuchi(m): 7:35am On Nov 02, 2015
Please @ markessien I might be ignorant but I really want to know what did you need $1.2m for?I ask because I think Nairaland, Linda ikeji didn't need any of that to make it and you you are already connected to more than 7000 hotels so I should bliv everything should be far better for you than most startups. The investors money you have gotten are you paying back in shares or cash? If you paying back is it not quite risky?

1 Like

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by coolluk(m): 4:24pm On Nov 03, 2015
Jarus:


We never thought of and we would never consider VI. VI is not for startups, but already well established companies.

I think Yaba, Surulere and Ikeja are ok for startups, but I think Yaba is the best for many reasons - it is closer to both Island and mainland, somehow central, a large concentration of middle class, hub of higher institutions (UNILAG, YABATECH, FCE etc).

Plus there is location economies due to its closeness to many other startups. Mark's Hotels.ng is there, Insidify is there, Jobmag is there etc. I can easily walk into any of them to have a chat with the founders and strike networking relationship etc

See the list of notable startups in Yaba according to Wikipedia

Braintem.org
500 Shops
Autobox
Asa
Beat Traffik
Budgit
Church+
Efiko
Hotels.ng
Jobs in Nigeria
Kaymu
Konga
Meditell
Insidify
Passnownow
PushCV
Prep Class
PrivateProperty.com.ng
Prowork
Talking Bookz
Traclist
Truppr
VacantBoards
Wecyclers
Tutor
Washist.com
Waracake.com
Wayopedia
Photographers in Nigeria
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yabacon_Valley

So I don't think it's a coincidence.

you forgot
lamudi
carmudi
jovago
andela

2 Likes

Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by tpiar: 5:04pm On Feb 11, 2020
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


Impressive.
Re: My Startup Hotels.ng Just Raised $1.2m. Ask Me Anything by bigbauer(m): 10:57pm On Feb 11, 2020
Wow, I'm amazed, I never knew you were on Nairaland. Congrats, I salute your courage, I know what it means to have people believe your vision to invest their money. Sesongo, amenam tutu. I'll surely take you up on the offer, I have tons of questions. I'm particularly interested in the things you did/tried that didn't work out as planned before Hotels.ng got it's break through.


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.

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

Me and the team

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