Sarah Hilmy: Inspiring friends and families to discover the world together
“Holidays are a way for you to enrich your own life. It's about going out and experiencing things that you otherwise wouldn't experience in your everyday life, trying new food, meeting new people, and just learning more about the world in a first-hand way.” —Sarah Hilmy, co-founder of travel platform Oddysee.
Despite rising costs, consumers are not only spending more on travel than any other experience, many are also increasing their personal travel budgets in 2023, unwilling to cut back in the face of inflation. Travel is a much-needed tonic—a way for people to escape and unplug from the anxieties and uncertainties of everyday life.
Travel and hospitality sales and marketing expert Sarah Hilmy views travel as something crucial: building blocks to personal growth and wellness.
“I find that holidays are one of the most important experiences of your year and your life in general, because it's a chance for you to reset, connect with yourself, as well as reconnect with your loved ones away from the hectic lives that we all need,” Sarah says.
Growing up in an entrepreneurial family in the Maldives and spending 10 years living in the UK before returning to Asia, in 2022 Sarah founded Oddysee with Max Martin during Antler’s residency in Singapore with the vision of helping everyone book the perfect holiday.
“We wanted to create an app that would actually allow you to book and plan your holiday with friends in just five minutes,” Sarah explains. That means removing the pain and hassle of coordinating a group holiday, ensuring plans don’t collapse because of the logistics.
“When you're traveling with friends, there's often so much that you need to coordinate on,” she explains. “What dates work for everyone? What can everyone afford? What does everyone want to do? Usually planning takes so much time and effort that so many holidays just fall apart.”
Oddysee is initially focused on providing excellent planning tools before it expands to features such as hotel bookings and experiences directly on the app. Initial tools include a collaborative itinerary so everyone knows exactly what they're doing on holiday, an expense tracker so everyone knows how much they owe each other for trip expenses, and a map to find interesting activities and hotels in the area.
Sarah’s founder journey has been inspired and shaped by her father and uncle setting up their business in hotels and resorts three decades ago.
“Just watching my family build their business over the years has made entrepreneurship feel more accessible,” she says. “In some ways, it doesn't feel as daunting or scary. It doesn't feel like an impossible dream. And in many ways, watching my family has inspired me to take up my own startup journey.”
The material impact Oddysee is having on people’s lives fuels Sarah as a founder.
“What really motivates me is the ability to build something from scratch, from a completely blank slate, and to actually put it out into the world…It's about watching customers engage with it and knowing that you've had an impact on their lives because of something that you've created.”
While the app has strong resonance with adventure-seeking Gen Zs and millennials who love traveling with friends, the company’s goal is to become the most effortless travel planning organization and booking platform for every type of customer.
“We want our customers—no matter what sort of holiday that they're planning—to always reach for Odyssey to make their trip happen. No matter what.”
Learn more about Oddysee, a travel app that helps groups of friends collaboratively plan, organize, and book holidays together.
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