Firstly, congrats to Mark Essien and team. A small scrappy startup has made a massive step forward with yesterday’s announcement of his Series A round. Getting to this point has not been easy. Although Mark is arguably one of the most impressive Nigerian technology entrepreneurs, the funding environment over the last few years has been completely unforgiving. Even to one of our brightest stars.
Mark would’ve been successful regardless. From when we first connected I knew there was something potentially amazing happening.
I have heard mentioned how funding events should not be celebrated. I disagree. Everyone who has actually been through one understands the emotional energy expelled, just getting the deal closed. Even now after several years, Bastian and I still find the process challenging. In the West, most startups don’t get funded. In Africa that margin is slimmer. My belief (and hope) is that this changes. With Omidyar and EchoVC stepping in to fill the next stage ($500-2m), my hope is that others follow suit. Bastian has been meeting with prospective funders for years. But rarely do they pull the trigger. We welcome and thank Omidyar and EchoVC for taking a lead in the next generation of internet companies in Nigeria.
From a Spark perspective, this is the first great validator to our portfolio. As the funding environment dried up over the last few years, some of the earlier bets we have made back in 2013 were significantly undervalued (or not valued at all). From Hotels to ToLet to Drinks, they have all been able to fight their way to cash flow positivity and reach a degree of traction without burning through tons of capital. Others have succumbed to execution risk and a lack of follow-on capital. This is the nature of the game. Some you win, some you lose. Over my 11 years as an entrepreneur, I have witnessed more failure than success. But on average, things are good. On paper, the investment in Hotels.ng has gone up x5. This is a first step. We expect this to rise considerably over the next few years. Yet, at the end of the day, we are happy to be part of the journey.
We are children of the internet. We belong to the future. Only the young, fearless and ambitious can capture the value around us in Nigeria and Africa. Because we view the world from a different perspective. Back in Jan 2012, I felt that way. Today it’s exactly the same. We need to solve the big challenges around us. If we do, then we can collectively make a dent in the universe.
Source: Jason's Blog http://www.jason.com.ng/post/119927763800/hotels-ng-raises-1-2m