Mark Essien is a software developer who runs a ₦3billion worth start-up and the CEO of Hotels.ng, one of the most successful and biggest online hotel booking site in Nigeria which he founded in 2013.

In 2015 he made the Forbes list of 30 youngest entrepreneurs in Africa and he has also been nominated for the Nigeria Future awards amongst others and a year later, in 2016, Hotels.ng co-invested with Jason Njoku and Spark in OgaVenue, an events booking platform. Mark Essien currently serves as a director on the board of OgaVenue.

Mark Essien, born in December 18, 1980 in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State is only 37 years old but already has accomplished so much in his young life. He is an inspiration and a success story to youths in Nigeria and beyond the African continent and that is why we are featuring him as Rise Youth of the Week.


Mark is a visionary who believes in Youth empowerment and job opportunities for talented young individuals. As an enabler, investor and thought leader, he has frequently been a TedX speaker. He has delivered talks on Leveraging networks to build a business, and how Africa can lead in the global technology space at TedXEuston and TedXGbagada.

Having received $1.2 million funding to create the largest online hotel booking website in Nigeria, Mark Essien, Founder and CEO of Hotels.ng shares his thoughts on ‘what startup founders should know and do’:

  1. Focus on making users use your product before you over-invest time in building the product. If people don’t want to use a simple version of the product, they won’t want to use a complex version.
  2. Give your technical co-founders equal stake, or have enough money to pay for the good guys. Another option is to be convincing enough to convince someone good. If you hire a 50k programmer and give him 3% equity and you are not technical, you are doomed.
  3. Understand the Unit Economics of your startup. If you don’t know what Unit Economics is, spend the next 7 days reading up on it.
  4. Read the book called ‘traction’ by Gabriel Weinberg. If your product does not have a clear and single primary method with which you will gain your first customers, then don’t build it.

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