Jason Njoku Owns 35 Percent Of Mark Essien’s Hotels Booking Startup
By now, it is no longer news that SPARK is putting $1 million into local Internet start-ups this year in what can be described as the most audacious bet on the early-stage Nigerian Internet space.
But as the news gradually filters through the fabric of the tech ecosystem, Techloy has exclusively learnt (after a tip-off from a reliable source) that one of its directors, Jason Njoku owns 35% of hotel listing and booking service, Hotels Booking Ltd, one of the SPARK-backed start-ups co-founded by Nigerian entrepreneur, Mark Essien in January 2012.
Back when we covered the start-up, it had secured N5 million (about $30,000) in funding from an unnamed individual investor to help solve the problem of finding and booking hotels online in towns and cities across Nigeria.
At the time, Njoku offered to invest into the start-up, one year before SPARK was founded, but was turned down by Essien, who claimed that he had already raised seed round and wouldn’t be needing more money until, perhaps, the next 6 -12 months.
Well, one year later, after several deliberations, Essien decided to give up 35% of his start-up to Njoku through SPARK’s undisclosed investment into the start-up, which is believed to be around $50,000 (about N8 million), given SPARK’s method of angel investment.
If this is anything to go by, and based on my calculations, Hotels.ng should have a post-money valuation of about $250,000 (about N40 million). The start-up currently has almost 4,000 hotels in over 300 cities in Nigeria, with over 1000 of these in Lagos alone.
Both Njoku and Essien declined to comment.
Update 1: Jason Njoku asserted in a tweet in response to our story, saying: “This isn’t accurate”. [Well, I'm not sure what isn't accurate, but we do have evidence that shows the share take up of both shareholders of the start-up.]
Update 2: Mark Essien was more vocal in his response on Twitter, saying: “Very irritating when TechLoy posts inaccurate information. Facts are easy to get, research them”. [As stated above, we have a legitimate document that shows that this information is accurate and may decide to publish it if we deem it necessary]