"Ndakumana Kulephera abwera Nthawizonse kusanachitike ndakumana Zimachitika"- Mark Essien

Mark Essien InterviewTiuzeni za wekha, mbiri yanu ndi zofuna.
I’m from Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria, which is a small town in Akwa Ibom State. I did both my primary and my secondary school there. My interest is my job: everything to do with computer software, hardware and robotics.

How easy was starting up as an entrepreneur in Software development?
Getting started was not particularly difficult, but it was a gradual process. It takes time both to learn how to really develop software and then how to sell software. The difficulty is that there is so much that one does not know that one does not know, and without some fundamental knowledge, it’s not very obvious what to do.

Tell us about some of your past works e.g. SalesPanel, Cube Of M etc
I’ve been involved in quite a number of projects in the pastnotable are Gnumm, an early file-sharing client; Standard MPEG encodera software based encoder tool, Ingolingo, a language learning site, and since 2008 I’ve been involved in the iPhone app business with my Cube Of M company.

Tell us about your startup.
My current startup is hotels.com.ng, which is my first Nigeria oriented product. What I plan to do (together with business partners), is to list all hotels in Nigeria. As the nigerian internet penetration/cashless payment develops, I will add online payments for hotels. I have raised funding for this project.

Kodi lanu lalikulu zolephera nanga bwanji anu bwino?
My biggest failures have come always just before my biggest successes. They are the products I was working on, and then abandoned to make something that did very well. The first was Dialer3, and the second was licensekey.net.

Kodi mwaphunzirapo chiyani anu zolephera?
What I learned from this: no project should ever take more than 6 weeks to release. If you are spending more than 6 weeks without customers telling you if they like the product or not, then you are doing something wrong. The second lessons was this: make sure you know how you will distribute your product before you write a single line of code. A product that cannot be distributed does not exist.

What milestones have you achieved so far?
I have successfully released several products that people are using.

If you are not into software development business, what would you have been doing?
I would either have been a policeman or a mechanic.

Taonani mmene kuti atolankhani anali pa inuyo ndi malonda anzeru?
I think social media is a big distraction. Of the things I’ve done so far, social media has not played any big role. Komabe, on a personal level, social media has helped me make friends I would never have had otherwise.

Kupita patsogolo, what should we expect from you?
Expect more products from me.

Any plan/final advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Release *many* products. Don’t have one huge idea that you keep chasing for years. Spend 4 weeks per product and if it does not work, then move on. At some point, one product will take off, and you will know very clearly what to focus on.

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