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Hotels.ng This multi-million dollar Nigerian startup trusted Interns to build their app

If you ask us what we think, we'd definitely say it was worth it.

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Nigeria’s hotel-booking company, Hotels.ng recently released the mobile app, and we think it’s interesting.

Hotels.ng, which was founded by Mark Essien,  has been around for quite sometime now, and has stayed relevant and important. Since starting in 2012, this startup operating out of their Yaba office has become one of the most successful startups in the Nigerian tech ecosystem. 

So when HNG decides to release an app, it’s best to check it out. 

The best thing about the Hotels.ng app.

It’s pretty much just an app that lets you have a wishlist, search for listings, find their ratings and prices, and book. One interesting feature though, is the GPS option. This recommends hotels for you based on your current location.

In all honesty, the app is basic at best. There are a couple of bugs here and there, and there’s only so much you can do on it. But the best thing about the app is not the app itself, it is the team behind it that are the most impressive.

The HNG Intern Army. 


The new Hotels.ng app was built entirely by interns. “The team of interns building the app were originally over 20,” Yemi said, “but it shrank to 6.”  Yemi is head of Growth and Business at Hotels.ng. 

The interns who worked on the app till the end are; Nsikak Thompson, Abdulkarim Abdulrahman, Idorenyin Obong, Ememobong Akpanekpo, Arinze George, and Andy Eshiet

Besides building a company, HNG seems to pay a lot of attention to training interns, probably more than most. Over 100 interns have passed through Hotels.ng. Now, it has become a full-fledged program, with the company, led by Mark Essien, partnering with the Akwa Ibom State Government to train your people in software development.

The reward system.

Besides the invaluable learnings that the intern gets to benefit, the guys at HNG have created a monetary reward system and tied it to points. 

“Take for instance, a point could be a thousand naira,” Yemi explained, “so if you achieve 12 points, you get 12 thousand naira.” 

Andela seems to have built a business model around this; training amateurs to become world-class, albeit for a longer period, and in a more immersive learning environment. The company, which Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg seems to like a lot, recently raised $40 million in funding.

Mark Zuckerberg with Andela Lagos team. play

Mark Zuckerberg with Andela Lagos team.



HNG doesn’t appear to have any plans to build a business model around this though.

“I like to think we have out developers in almost every other tech company,” Yemi said, “we mostly recruit young developers, train them, and set them free.” 

For them the mission appears to be feeding the community with talent. “Mark (the founder of HNG) really believes in building talent. All of this is funded by us.”

As a business, this might not be very sustainable in the long run, so they created a model that can keep this going. 

“We want to do this now in partnership with state governments, where we can train developers from different states, and give them the opportunity to grow, give them valuable skills, and connect them with jobs. So a state government funds the entire program, because this is quite expensive for us.”

Over 100 interns graduated on the 16th of November from the partnership with Akwa Ibom State Government. Imagine how incredible this would be at a national scale.


The difference here is that Andela is training developers, mostly for the international market, while HNG’s work is focusing on the local ecosystem. Both of them are valid.

“We do what Andela does without the praise,” Yemi concluded.

So it appears, that while Hotels wants to help aspiring developers find their footing, Andela wants to teach its own youngins how to fly.

Back to the app,

It’s far from perfect, or groundbreaking for that matter, but we still love it. And we love it for the simple fact that the team behind it basically learned while at it. Like the app, they might be rough around the edges, buggy in some places. But eventually, they just might become world class, because in the end, growth is what matters the most. 

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