APEX in Profile: Julien Sivan

Julien Sivan
CEO
SKYdeals

After graduating from École supérieure de commerce de Nice (now known as SKEMA Business School), Julien co-founded Business Lab in 1998, which became one of the biggest independent digital agencies in France. There, he acquired expertise in branding, digital marketing and new technologies, and collaborated with more than 15 airlines, leading him to co-found SKYdeals in January 2017.

Fast facts:
Location: Monaco
Now reading: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
Favorite aircraft: A350
Passport stamp you wish you had: The city of Atlantis
Favorite social network: LinkedIn

Describe the path that led you to co-found SKYdeals.
The impact of digital technology in the airline industry has been very strong in the field of marketing and sales, and as experts, we were part of this fantastic revolution, helping many airlines achieve their transformation, switching from a B2B to a direct B2C online business.

Together with Céline Braems, my co-founder, we became convinced that there would be a second revolution in the industry: onboard digitization. In-flight connectivity is a major shift in the passenger experience, because when connected and online, passengers will switch from a closed and proprietary environment to an open and competitive digital world, and if airlines want to keep their finger on the pulse of the global experience, they rapidly need to invent new online services and entertainment. That’s really exciting and we want to be part of it.

What lessons have you applied in your current job from your previous role as co-founder and CEO of Business Lab?
One of the main aspects of my job at Business Lab was to design digital products and help companies innovate and launch new services or offers. From its very first day, SKYdeals has used a lean startup methodology and framework, and all our developments follow agile methods. It helps us to rethink our strategy and offers often based on market feedback and analysis. It also allows us to move fast and to deploy rapidly – and this is our strongest asset.

Are you one to jump on a deal or do you like to conduct research before making a purchase?
I do both! I’m really fond of e-commerce – I think it represents 90 percent of all my purchases. One of the strengths of e-commerce is that you can compare prices and conduct intensive research before placing your order. But I’m also convinced that rational purchases only account for a small part of all our spending.

Impulsive buying is one of the things we are talking about at SKYdeals. But offering deals is not enough to convert customers: We also need to provide a fun and exciting experience. That’s why we created our fly-over offers, flash sales, group buying and even in-flight auctions.

How is the in-flight e-commerce experience different from on the ground?
In most cases, it’s very similar, and that’s the problem. With SKYdeals, we try to differentiate and to create a specific, exciting and dedicated in-flight e-commerce experience. Our strengths: passenger data and a captive audience with a lot of time to kill.
These assets enable us to provide fantastic targeted deals for products and destination services, but also entertain the passengers with special and contextual offers throughout the duration of their flight.

What did winning the APEX Newcomer of the Year award mean for SKYdeals?
With in-flight shoppertainment, SKYdeals is reimagining shopping as being fully part of the airline passenger experience. We hope to create a new category of entertainment, and for this we need the support and the recognition of the whole industry.

Winning the APEX Newcomer of the Year award is a great positive sign; it means we are on the right track and that the market is ready and open. We were super proud of it, and as a newcomer, we know that there is still a huge amount of hard work to be done to achieve our objective and be fully recognized as a major player of the in-flight experience.

“APEX in Profile: Julien Sivan” was originally published in the 9.1 February/March issue of APEX Experience magazine.