Nigerian travel booking site Hotels.ng raises $1.2M, plans expansionNews / DistributionBy Sean O'Neil | May 26, 2015Share This article was originally published on Hotels.ng, the Nigeria-based travel booking startup founded by Mark Essien, has raised a $1.2 million Series A round from the Omidyar Network and EchoVC funds.The 34-employee company declined to reveal the valuation placed on it by the deal.But CEO Essien said it was set "at a valuation that has given Spark a 5x return on investment already, and that will allow me generate another 5x return to the new investors." In 2013, Nigerian accelerator Spark founded by Jason Njoku, made a seed investment of $225,000.Hotels.ng, founded in 2012 and saying that it is now profitable, says it lists 14,000 hotels across Nigeria.CEO Essien says he wants to use the funding to enhance its position in Nigeria and to exapnd to Ghana and Francophone Africa.His company's largest rival is Jovago, which was created by Rocket Internet, and which hasn't disclosed its funding levels.Essien has written about Hotels.ng having a modest start: "We coded a booking form one day and bought a company phone. We turned on the booking form and put the phone number on the site. We received 20 bookings for hotels in various parts of Nigeria that day, and had 100 missed calls on the phone. We could not book the hotels yet and we barely had time to address all the queries we received, so we took the number back off. We kept the booking form, but nothing would happen when people booked. Some time later, Jason Njoku wrote me a message on Facebook that he was starting an investment company called Spark and that he wanted to invest in Hotels.ng...."Share this quote Despite its humble beginnings, the company faces a significant opportunity. Nigeria is the world's tenth largest country by number of Internet users.See Tnooz's original coverage of Hotels.ng bringing online travel to West Africa, a place where the big brands fear to tread and its founder’s story: how to capture an emerging market with an online travel agency, an interview last year with the company's CEO.