We launched SIX to give travelers a seamless way to book the most stylish hotels and retreat destinations in the world.
The launch marked a personal milestone for me, as well. And a story I feel is worth telling briefly here. If only because it explains why giving our customers the easiest way to discover the unknown is a passion close to my heart.
Fifteen years ago I left Algeria for New York City. It was my greatest adventure to date. I had my curiosity, a few hundred dollars, and a backpack. Manhattan took me from moment one. During the days, I wandered the streets from Wall Street to Central Park, wide-eyed. At night, still full of energy, I camped out at the 24-hour Apple Store on 5th Avenue, playing with the Mac products there. It was during these all-night tinkering sessions that I decided I would become a UI designer. When the iPhone launched in 2007, I went to work designing apps.
I began pitching ideas. I knew I had design chops and good instincts, but big brands wanted to give their business to design agencies, not a fresh-to-New York twenty-something living in apartment 6A. So I hired an engineer, and started pitching under a new name, SixAgency. By 2009, we’d built the first-ever beauty education app and were working with top fashion and beauty names like Vogue, Tommy Hilfiger and L’Oréal. Awards and funding began to come in, and we launched and sold a curated restaurant app called Flavour.
I started kicking around ideas for a personal project. I’d always been interested in good design, and wanted to create a platform where users could discover unique items and experiences. Curatum launched in 2015 as a radically different shopping experience on mobile, targeting men, and recommending only one item or retreat per day. We received multiple design awards, and in a full-circle moment for me, Apple highlighted Curatum in the App Store.
With Curatum, we discovered the demand for travel experiences far outweighed retail items. It was 2016, and millennials were booking travel at an unprecedented clip. We pivoted, renaming the app SIX, and selecting a few hotels and experiences to test the market. By the end of the year, we’d identified that the travel space would be our best chance to make a huge impact. So a decade after arriving in New York, I grabbed my backpack and hit the road again. I had to see what was happening in the travel space in real time.
I spent 16 out of the next 24 months living in hotels all over the world. At each destination, I met with hoteliers and management, discussing the pain points of their business. They were fed up with the antiquated systems their bookings ran on, and were having trouble keeping up with the fast-paced, socially-driven and mobile-first environment that dominates travel today. While scrolling through Instagram in the airport one afternoon, I started imagining a platform where users could book trips directly from where they received inspiration—their feeds. I took the idea to Ilyas Djeddou (now my co-founder and CTO) and our vision for SIX began to crystalize. We committed to completely transforming the travel landscape for travelers, creators and hotels. We received funding for the project and closed the agency to focus on SIX.
Many months later, Ilyas and I are very proud of what we’ve created. SIX technology is totally unique, enabling travelers to book seamlessly at their moments of discovery on Instagram, articles and mobile ads. As a Travel Affiliate Platform (TM), SIX connects hotels, brands and creators and allows for direct collaborations that help build rich communities. Meanwhile, SIX Insights provides real-time analytics to measure impact and drive direct bookings, which helps our member hotels optimize their business.
My own journey to this point began with a leap of faith, and a desire for an adventure. SIX now makes it easy for our users to have a similar experience: to get inspired, pick a destination and go. As I packed my single bag all those years ago, I had no idea that the trip I was packing for would take me here, and that, I suppose, is what travel is about. Author John Steinbeck said it best: “People don't take trips... trips take people.”
I wish you happy traveling with SIX.
Co-Founder and CEO