Episode 009 Marek Zmysl‚Owski, Founder at HotelOga, Making positive expectations bet on Africa


“One of the biggest mistakes online businesses make is to think that just because your service is delivered online, it means your customers can only be acquired online”

Our guest this week is Marek Zmyslowski

Marek is the cofounder of Jumia Travel (formerly Jovago) and HotelOga.

HotelOga is a hotel management system which enables hotels in Africa to have their own booking engine, websites and customer relationship management system.

Earlier this year, HotelOga merged with Savanna Sunrise, another travel and hospitality marketing company based in Kenya.

Prior to starting HotelOga, Marek was the Managing Director at Jovago one of Rocket Internet companies in Africa

Marek was born and grew up in Poland, where he founded two startups. He now calls Nigeria home, and he is making a big bet on the future growth of the continent.

In this interview, we discussed Marek’s journey into the startup ecosystem and Africa. How Jovago grew to over 20,000 hotels in Africa.  His view about how to start and scale internet businesses in the continent.

And we discussed the future of the online travel agencies in Africa, in a wider context of how online aggregators shape the fragmented market

On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why startup ecosystems need hype to attract talents and investors at the macro level, and why founders should avoid the distractions these hypes may bring
  • How to lose $100,000 doing the wrong things in your startup
  • How to raise money from investors on the back of learnings from past failures
  • How to increase your runway by generating cash from
  • Validate your business model, understand the scale of the demand and do customer development before investing in technology. Customer > Product
  • How the Jovago team in Lagos signed up 500 hotels before they launched their website.
  • Why it is important to raise enough money to build high growth business in a frontier market
  • Why you should avoid raising seed investment that is contingent on meeting unproven KPIs.
  • Why scale is important in a startup because it enables you to have a significant impact
  • How to leverage on existing offline channels to acquire customers for your online startup
  • Why it is important to disrupt your business before others do it for you
  • Why there are very few CEOs that can take high growth startups through all the stages of its growth from idea to maturity.

Selected links and resources

This episode is brought to you by Accounteer is a ridiculously simple online accounting platform specifically designed for small and medium scale businesses in Africa. To get an exclusive 75% off your first-year subscription, sign up FREE at accounteer.com/dotun

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