A quick update since Marek Zmyslowski’s post on his Nigeria experience has gone “viral”.
First, a disclaimer: I have a dog in this fight.
Update: February 20th 2019
- The G̶o̶d̶The G̶o̶d̶f̶a̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ lead investor and Chairman of the defunct? Hotel Oga board (I’ve given you tatafos a really good clue) is not Nigerian. The Primary investor is Indian and then there’s an Ethiopian. The deal and “alleged” fraud just happened to be in Nigeria. Marek knew that taking advantage of the challenging image Nigeria has globally and throwing in the term Godfather would definitely help to bring out all the boys to the yard.
- The sale to South Africa’s Nightsbridge didn’t go through in the sense that Marek received an advance of the sale proceeds “to help shore up the company”. Before the conclusion, Mareks investors alerted Nightsbridge about their dispute. Nightsbrigde refused to complete the transaction and have failed to get their advance to Marek which apparently has entered voicemail. So we have Nightsbridge as part victim too. Marek is truly Pan African.
- From documents I’ve seen, Booking.com, Expedia (and possibly other OTAs) remitted money collected for various Hotels via Marek/Hotel Oga) and those monies have also taken flight. Marek is global!
I’m only getting myself involved publicly because e dey sweet “especially” foreign journalists anytime a story reinforces their prejudice against Nigeria. It’s human nature I accept but this time around that “humaness” should not give Nigerian tech the short end of a stick.
This story is quite simple. A Polish boy came to Nigeria and the country and her techosystem welcomed him with open arms. Like a true successful acclimatized foreigner story, he started his company and raised money from an Indian and Ethiopian and some Nigerians. He gbaaa’d them, and they are using all legal means (albeit aggressively) to get back what has been gbaa’d from them.
Any publication, especially foreign that leads on this story with the Godfather angle is just being typical and not a good journalist.
I’m a Nigerian in the ‘tech startup space’ therefore I am inherently against any unsubstantiated information that will portray and affect my constituencies negatively.
Here’s the summarised version of the “other side” of the story, which I had known for quite a while.
Marek ‘allegedly’ defrauded his investors in Hotel Oga.
- They invested money in his company HotelOga without knowing there was another entity in Poland that held the technical assets.
- The Nigerian entity had contracts and collected money on behalf of Nigerian hotels. Which was ‘allegedly’ not remitted to the hotels.
- Marek had issues with his Poland based cofounder(s) and they split. They took the polish entity and Marek took the Nigerian entity.
- Marek sold the Nigerian entity to a South African company — Nightsbridge and “allegedly” took all the money received. In the process shafting
- His Investors
- Nigerian Hotels and Booking.com that he collected bookings and payments from.
5. The Polish entity merged with/was sold to HotelOnline
6. The Nigerian investors without anything to show for their plenty monies invested (even though value was being created everywhere) began to look like they had been jobbed by a Polish visitor to Nigeria (Choi!🙆🏾).
7. The Nigerian investors have refused to be his Maga and are apparently working to rectify their error
8. Marek is throwing a tantrum and trying to tarnish Nigeria’s image as he tries to sort out his personal business issues. (Marek, we will not be your collateral damage)
From my last conversations with a number of these parties, all these were being settled behind the scene because sometimes people have misunderstandings and preferably would sort in private.
However, Marek who Nigeria gave everything his supposedly superior Poland couldn’t is trying to ruin the image of the Nigerian tech ecosystem just because his TED Talk went viral and he suddenly thinks he speaks for Africa and our tech ecosystem.
Wetin dey pain me pass be say, people who understandably are frustrated with many things going wrong in our country are happy to see anything -especially foreign that reaffirms their experiences. To them, I say, “fellas, our house get problem — people wey dey oppress, bad investors etc. but in this very case, there is much more than meets the eye”.
The Nigerian tech ecosystem is gaining momentum and every day we see reaffirmation via investments in the likes of Paystack, Flutterwave, Mines.io etc. We cannot allow anyone or anything slow and disrupt our momentum just because they couldn’t get away with jobbing their investors.
Many legit foreigners have been and will continue to be successful founding great companies in the Nigerian techosystem (Hi Andela! Hi Supermart!) and many more are very welcome.
PS: I’ve put this public because some parties with knowledge of the other side have gone public with a bit of information . But all this has been an open secret for over 6 months — or should I say since he l̵e̵f̵t̵ absconded from the country.
That we don’t talk, no mean say we no know.
PPS: Una wan know the Godfather. Tatafo people! 🤣🤣
PPPS: But I have to give Marek hand for his post. Pure red meat for the international press. A foreigner comes to Nigeria to build the “Amazon for Africa” in the process escapes corrupt godfathers and the Interpol and ends with writing a book of which proceeds will go to kids from Northern Nigeria to teach them coding. Guy, I hail 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾