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Business News

Meet Mark Essien, the founder of Nigeria’s biggest hotel booking site

Mark Essien has since successfully managed hotels.ng to become the biggest hotel booking portal in Nigeria. Get familiar with his journey.

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Meet Mark Essien, the founder of Nigeria’s biggest hotel booking site

The founder of hotels.ng, Mark Essien, is no doubt a visionary. At the time he founded the hotel booking portal, not many saw the untapped opportunity in the country’s hospitality industry. With the advent of his venture, travellers in and outside Nigeria no longer need to present themselves in person to book a hotel to lodge. 

Essien adopted the exact model of Uber, the biggest car-hailing service in the world that owns no car, to establish hotels.ngHotels.ng is a booking portal that doesn’t own any hotel.  

With hotels.ng, Essien solved the need to provide the most convenient solution to an industry that was rife with the traditional method and difficulty of booking hotels  the walk-in culture. 

Meet Mark Essien, the founder of Nigeria’s biggest hotel booking site

Essien is one of the very few business leaders in the country who are committed to inspiring people with their success stories. He is a frequent TedX speaker, having delivered talks on leveraging networks to build a business, and how Africa can lead in the global technology space, at TedXEuston and TedXGbagada respectively. 

Laudably, the tech enthusiast has since successfully managed hotels.ng to become the biggest hotel booking portal in Nigeria. It is in this light that he is being featured on Nairametrics’ Founders’ profile this week. 

Essien’s early life and education 

Mark Essien was born on December 18, 1980, to Anthony Paul Essien and Monika Essien. His father, a prominent political figure in Akwa Ibom State, served as a Special Adviser to the state’s governor on Economic Affairs during Nigeria’s Third Republic. His mother, who emigrated from Germany in 1978, is a chileducation expert who owns a school in Ikot Ekpene. 

[READ MORE: Femi Otedola celebrates his friend, Aliko Dangote, as he clocks 62]

Essien’s childhood education began at his mother’s school, Monika Kindergarten, followed by secondary education at Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene. He spent the first 18 years of his life in Ikot Ekpene, before moving to Germany, where he studied and obtained a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng) degree in Computer Engineering at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences, Berlin. He later bagged a Master of Science degree in Computer Science at the Free University of Berlin. 

Meet Mark Essien, the founder of Nigeria’s biggest hotel booking site

While studying for his mandatory German Language Programme and A-Level examinations, he took up coding and worked parttime as a cinema attendant. 

His Career milestones 

While in Germany, Essien created a file-sharing software, Gnumm, which was later acquired by Snoopstar, a German company. He worked at Snoopstar for a while and went on to work on his own as a freelance software developer. Essien also created a DirectShow based software-only Mpeg encoder, Standard MPEG, which had clients such as the Walt Disney Company and The United States Armed forces. 

After his bachelor’s programme in Germany, Essien became interested in building a technology company that could work in Nigeria. He realised then that the online travel space in Africa could use some innovation. This was when he created the first version of Hotels.ng which had a few hotels on its list at the time. 

Going by his business philosophy– “build a product for an existing market and not a market for your product, Essien created a dummy hotel booking website, left it for a few months and noted the traffic that it generated. 

[READ ALSO: Sahara Foundation restates commitment to driving inclusive education]

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Having proven the potential viability of what he had built, he founded Hotels.ng in 2013. 

Essien’s hotels.ng 

Hotels.ng soon caught the attention of Jason Njoku, the founder of Iroko TV, whose Spark.ng made an initial investment of $75,000 in Hotels.ngfew months later, upon seeing significant promise and progress in Hotels.ng and its model, Spark.ng made another investment of $150,000. 

Meet Mark Essien, the founder of Nigeria’s biggest hotel booking site

Mark Essien and wife, Jenni Naiaretti

In 2015, the company secured additional funding of $1.2 million from international investors, EchoVC Pan-Africa Fund. 

The company has since grown exponentially and has extended its business out of Nigeria. In January 2018, Hotels.ng announced its international hotel booking site, Hotel.africa 

Hotels.ng also launched Fly.africa, its flight booking site, to provide cheap flights to anywhere in the world. 

Other investments 

In 2016, Essien’s Hotels.ng co-invested with Njoku to establish OgaVenue, an event booking platform. Essien serves as a Director on the Board of OgaVenue. 

[READ FURTHER: DEAL: OMA Investments acquires majority stake in Ikeja Hotel]

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Recognition 

In 2015, Essien made the Forbes list of 30 youngest entrepreneurs in Africa. He was also nominated for the Nigeria Future Awards, amongst others. 

His Personal life  

In 2017, Mark Essien married fellow software developer, Jenni Naiaretti. 

Famuyiwa Damilare is a trained journalist. He holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication at the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ).Damilare is an innovative and transformational leader with broad-based expertise in journalism and media practice at large. He has explored his proven ability in the areas of reporting, curating and generating contents, creatively establishing social media engagements, and mobile editing of videos. It is safe to say he’s a multimedia journalist.

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Coronavirus

Covid-19: WHO approves China’s Sinopharm vaccine

WHO has announced the approval of China’s Sinopharm vaccine for Covid-19 vaccination.

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Covid-19: First world nations oppose waiving intellectual rights for vaccine development

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the approval of China’s Sinopharm vaccine for Covid-19 vaccination.  The vaccine is reported to have 79% efficacy against covid.

This was disclosed today in a report by Reuters. The vaccine would also be the second Chinese-made vaccine after Sinovac vaccine and would be the first developed outside Europe and North America to receive WHO accreditation.

“This expands the list of COVID-19 vaccines that COVAX can buy, and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval, and to import and administer a vaccine,” WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The WHO added that the easy storage requirements make it highly suitable for low-resource settings.

“Its easy storage requirements make it highly suitable for low-resource settings,” a WHO statement said while also disclosing that the vaccine has been approved for people above the age of 18 to receive two shots.

“On the basis of all available evidence, WHO recommends the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks,” the statement added.

The vaccine was created by Beijing Biological Products Institute, a subsidiary of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group, with an efficacy of 79% for all age groups.

The WHO however, admitted that few older adults (over 60 years) were enrolled in clinical trials, so efficacy could not be estimated in this age group.

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The quest for vaccine efficiency got a major boost earlier this week as Nairametrics reported that the United States government announced that it supports the waiver of Intellectual Property Protections on Covid-19 vaccine development, in a bid to boost the fight against the pandemic, and says it will participate in the Okonjo-Iweala-led WTO negotiation to make it happen.

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Obituaries

“Mama Taraba”, Former minister and senator, Aisha Al-Hassan is dead

Ex-Women Affairs minister, Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, popularly known as Mama Taraba is dead

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A former Minister for Women Affairs and ex-Governorship Candidate in Taraba State, Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, popularly known as Mama Taraba is dead.

According to media reports she died in a hospital on Friday in Cairo, Egypt at the age of 61.

Al-Hassan, who was a former senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Taraba North Senatorial District, was the All Progressive Congress (APC) Governorship Candidate for Taraba in the 2015 general elections.

READ: Abba Kyari’s last letter to President Buhari

She later contested for the same seat on the platform of the United Democratic Party in the 2019 general elections after resigning from APC and as a minister in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on July 27, 2018.

The former senator was born on the 16th of September, 1959 in Jalingo, Taraba State, to Alhaji Abubakar Ibrahim, Sarkin Ayukan Muri.

READ: Chad’s President Deby dies of injuries suffered on the frontlines, as son takes over

Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan attended Muhammed Nya Primary School, Jalingo and LEA Primary School, Tudun Wada, Kaduna before proceeding to Saint Faith College (now GGSS) Kawo Kaduna where she studied between January 1973 and June 1977.

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