Mark Anthony Essien (37): Founder/Ceo, Hotels.Ng
Degree: Bachelor in Computer Engineering, Beuth University of Applied Science, Berlin; M.Sc. Computer Science, Freie Universitat Berlin.
Born in Ikot Ekpene, and bred there for 18 years. Learnt coding during the period he was studying German and his A-levels. Founded Gnumm, a file sharing website, which was later acquired by Snoopstar. During his time at Snoopstar, he created different software products, and sold some to Disney and The American Military. Returned to Nigeria after his degrees, and after studying the online travel market, he decided to create a hotel booking site – Hotels.ng – in 2013 with $300, which sparked the attention of Jason Njoku’s Spark.ng. The latter in 2013 made an initial $75,000 investment and later $150,000 after momentum increased. Hotels.ng got further $1.5 million investment in 2015 from EchoVC Pan-African Fund and Omidyar Network, investment vehicle of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. A TEDX speaker at TEDxGbagada and TEDxEuston. Was selected as one of 30 most promising entrepreneurs in Africa in 2015 by Forbes’ Magazine.