Odds are, you’ve had a business idea at some point or another. You’ve probably shelved this idea because, well, running a business in Nigeria isn’t easy. Think about this, though: People are starting up new things everyday, even if “Mark Zuckerberg” isn’t the name on their resume. The real trick is learning how to get from point A—your idea—to point B, and to help you, we found an entrepreneur who knows exactly how to get your idea off the ground.
Meet Mark Essien
Mark Essien is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hotels.ng, an online hotel booking agency which is the first and largest of its kind in Nigeria. Since establishing Hotels.ng in 2013, Mark has overseen the growth of hotel listings on the platform from just over 100 at launch to over 7,000 hotels in 21 regions of Nigeria with millions of transactions in 2014 alone. In 2015, Mark made a Forbes list of 30 youngest entrepreneurs in Africa.
How capital was raised
In 2015, Hotels.ng raised $1.2 million from the Omidyar Network, the investment vehicle of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and EchoVC Pan-Africa Fund, a seed-stage technology fund.
Earnings and prospects
According to Mark, Hotels.ng makes money by getting referral fees from the hotels who pay commission per booking. Its profitability has been established by its records since inception, and they expect to control 90% to 95% of local hotel booking in Nigeria and 50% of the African hotel booking market within the next five years.
Staffing and hiring
As of 2016, Hotels.ng had over 100 staff with most of them constantly searching for new hotels while updating the requisite information on our platform. As it stands, every state and town in Nigeria has been visited by the staff of Hotels.ng.
On hiring, Mark is of the opinion that, “When hiring, there are a couple of things you need to balance. You can hire for experience. Say you are looking for a digital marketer, you hire someone that has experience in the field. You can also hire for intelligence. If you hire for experience, because Nigeria has so few people that are very expert in particular fields, you’d find out that the person that is experienced would often be extremely expensive, because everybody is looking for the same scarce experience resource. Our philosophy is not to hire for experience, particularity for anything that can be learnt relatively easily. If a person is smart enough, they will probably pickup anything in a month or two. So instead of hiring for experience, we prefer to hire for intelligence and then we’ll just tell the person what needs to be done.”