Who is Mark Essien? Developer Who Sold Software to Disney and US Army

Mark Essien is a Nigerian entrepreneur, software developer and startup investor. He is the CEO of hotels.ng, the first online and biggest hotel booking websites in Nigeria.

Mark holds a B.Sc degree in Computer Engineering (Hardware Robotics) at Beuth University and M.Sc in Computer Science at Freie University both in Berlin, Germany.

While at Beuth University, the internet was getting attention globally and Mark was fascinated by it. He decided to master the use of internet and he became interested in software development which led to the creation of Gnumm, a file sharing device which allowed people to share data through multiple network. The App went viral and was eventually acquired by Bertelmann Group. Essien later joined the group as part of the software development team and he acquired advanced knowledge in programming.

One of his remarkable projects was the creation of Standard MPEG, which was one of the first MPEG encoder software available for the DirectShow platform. He sold the software clients such as Disney and the U.S. military, making enough to pay his fees and other expenses, according to Forbes.

When the smartphone age began, Essien developed a number of applications for Apple’s App Store and when the apps market in the West became saturated, he turned his attention to Africa, specifically Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy and arguably the most successful Black nation.

In Nigeria, Essien noticed a gap in the hotel industry, the sector was decoupled from the Tech space which led him to build a hotel booking platform called Hotels.NG- Africa’s biggest hotel booking platform according to Forbes.

As many entrepreneurs would prefer to start business in Lagos, Nigeria commercial City, Essien decided to start his business from Calabar because the state is famous for its hotel sector holding some of the finest hotels in Nigeria. He then approached a number of hotel CEOs and managers to sell the idea. The reaction from them was impressive and Essien subsequently expanded to other states but he lacked funding.

In 2013, founder of iROKO partner, Jason Njoku who was beginning a startup fund called Spark, invested $75000 into Hotels.ng which was channeled into hiring sales agents who were responsible for signing hotels up onto the platform and 2 months later, Spark made another investment worth $150,000.

After 2 years Mark received another $1.2 million startup sound from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network and from Echo VC Pan-African Fund. With a monthly profit of above $40,000, Mark Essien is worth $8 million.

In 2015, he made the Forbes List of 30 Youngest Entrepreneur in Africa and also nominated for the Nigeria Future Awards.

Essien is a frequent TEDX Speaker. He has delivered talks on leveraging networks to build a business and how Africa can lead in the global technology space, speaking at TEDxEuston and TEDxGbagada respectively.

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