Some of you may have stumbled on, and read an explosive Medium post penned by Marek Zmyslowksi about his experiences with the international police and Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies that, according to the post, reported that he was wanted for ‘for the crimes of Advanced Financial Fraud.’ The lengthy publication, which can be read here for those interested in its intricacies, highlights several motivators for the arrest. At one point, Marek mentioned that his entrepreneurial spirits had taken him to Nigeria, where he co-founded Jovaco.com that later merged with Jumia. Marek also states that he started HotelOga, which ‘later rebranded to HotelOnline.’ The statement has since been refuted the current management of HotelOnline as the details about that aspect of his story are misleading.
To begin with, Endre Opdal and Håvar Bauck started Savanna Sunrise Limited, and its transition to Hotel Online was explained in a previous interview that we covered on this site.
In January 2017, we were contacted by the company who was our only real competitor: HotelOga in Nigeria. While pursuing a similar business idea, they were substantially different in some key aspects, though. While we had focused on providing a solution, and build a profitable business model around it, HotelOga were focused on the technology. Hence, we had a solution which the hotels loved, and we were making money. We didn’t have our own technology, though. HotelOga had a technology, but they weren’t making money. We entered merger talks. In the process, however, it turned out that the situation in HotelOga was far from perfect.
In the process, we also realized that HotelOga in Nigeria were actually just a purely commercial entity, whereas the technology was owned by a Polish company which didn’t even have the same shareholders. The bonds between the companies were close, but they were completely separate. Through due diligence, we realized that the planned merger was not viable. HotelOga, however, collapsed a few days later, opening the doors for a smaller merger between Savanna Sunrise Ltd., and Hotel Online Sp. z.o.o (the Polish technology company). In the process, we agreed that the Polish company had a better name and visual identity, and that the merged company would continue under their name and brand. Hence, the transition from Savanna Sunrise to HotelOnline.
According to a recent response by HotelOnline to Marek’s story, after April 5th 2017, Marek Zmyslowski transferred his shares in that company to his Polish co-founders, and resigned from all his roles. By the time Savanna started to offer its services as HotelOnline, Marek had no shares in the venture, nor did he have an active or passive role in the new organization.
“Savanna Sunrise Ltd. currently trades as HotelOnline. Marek Zmyslowski has not, and has never had any role in the company after the transaction. HotelOnline is not associated with Zmyslowski or the now defunct Hospitality Technology Solutions Ltd. (“HotelOga”) in any way,” reads a statement from HotelOnline.