Episode 09: Marek Zmyslowski, Founder of HotelOga, on making positive expectations bet on Africa

Episode 09 of Building the Future with Dotun here. Marek Zmyslowski of HotelOga responds to questions from Dotun Olowoporoku. Learn how to scale your business in Africa.

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

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

HotelOga is a hotel management system that 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 of Jovago, one of the 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 chat about Marek’s journey into the startup ecosystem in Africa. We discuss how Jovago grew to over 20,000 hotels in Africa, as well as his view about how to start and scale internet businesses on the continent. We also talk about the future of online travel agencies in Africa, in a wider context of how online aggregators shape fragmented markets.

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 hype may bring
  • How to lose $100,000 doing the wrong things in your startup
  • How to raise money from investors on the back of lessons from past failures
  • How to validate your business model, understand the scale of demand and do customer development before investing in technology
  • 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
  • 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


For more details about this podcast, go to: http://www.thestarta.com/articles/podcast/marek-zmysl%C2%82owski/ 

All rights reserved. This publication/podcast may not be re-published in part or whole, without the expressed permission of Dotun Olowoporoku.

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