Mark Essien is a Nigerian entrepreneur, software developer and startup investor. He is the founder and CEO of Hotels.ng, one of the first and most successful online hotel booking websites in Nigeria.
Essien spent the first 18 years of his life in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom. After he was done with secondary school in Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene. He went to Germany for his tertiary education where he acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and a Masters.
In that time, Mark honed his coding skills and started building applications for the then – nascent Apple App Store. He then returned to Nigeria to set up Hotels.ng.
Genesis Of Hotels.ng
This was the time where Jumia and Konga had started some operational ‘tilling’.
Mark observed that travel was also going to be the next big thing. He compared the Brazil and Indian hotel experience and travel tech space and he figured that it would be possible to replicate the model in Nigeria, as both countries bore similarities to Nigeria at that growth phase.
It was in the final months of his M.Sc and he was considering a career that would lead him on a worthwhile venture in Nigeria. His ideas for Hotels.ng at the time were, at best, a well-researched hypothesis. So, he returned to Nigeria to test them out.
Prior Expectations For Hotels.ng
The Akwa Ibom born software developer conducted a rigorous market analysis before he started Hotels.ng. His expectations have largely been exceeded. Although Essien started the company with just $300 in 2013, they are currently selling hotel rooms in billions of naira after under three years of operation.
Advice To Budding Entrepreneurs
Mark’s words; “They should study their field of interest, and not just cursorily. True innovation comes from in-depth understanding of the workings of a particular field.
Today, at Hotels.ng, we reach over 400 million people, this would not be possible if those working there did not have a deep understanding of what the job entails.
We create and improve every day, something all entrepreneurs have to master if they will make a difference. However, every prospective entrepreneur must be aware that all entrepreneurs face challenges and must be prepared for that. Managing a growing team is a challenge that one has to deal with daily. There are, of course, also the standard ‘Nigerian problems’ of power and internet.
I would advise them to stick to building entrepreneurship based on business before engaging in social entrepreneurship.”