Reflecting on 10 Years of I Wish

Lessons Learnt
Vijit Singh

I Wish is marking 10 years of delivering innovation with its clients. As we reflect on the previous decade, we’re struck by the sheer amount of what we’ve learnt. Much has changed, but our founding principles remain unchanged.  

We created this article to share the details of our journey and what it’s taught us. We hope telling our story can play a small part in helping you create your own, be it in the world of innovation or entrepreneurship.

In the Beginning

It started with the encouragement of family and friends, not least his parents investing in I Wish’s Founder & Managing Director’s Masters degree at the Leeds University Business School and a move, albeit temporary at the time, to the UK.  

Following his Masters, he worked in technology, ventures, consulting and social enterprise before joining pioneering innovation consultancy Synectics. This began his embark on what has transpired into over a decade in the world of innovation agencies.  

There came a point, though, at which Vijit had to make a decision. He had gone as far as he could as an employee at someone else’s agency. That left him with two options, “You either check out of this journey or you create something on your own.”

Vijit chose to create and thus, the earliest seeds of I Wish were planted.   

Some Things Have Changed

In I Wish’s early days, we couldn’t afford to be selective about the types of opportunities we pursued. As time went on and businesses realised we were here to stay, that changed. This presented an opportunity with the company’s newfound stability to zoom in on what would have the most impact with the experience and knowledge within it.

For Vijit, that meant being as hands-on as possible at street-level, something he was keen to retain as it was something he absolutely loved. I Wish began to specialise in providing first-hand immersive experiences and insights. The company used that hands-on work to help brands create exciting new products and propositions for the manufacturing and services industries.

As I Wish matured, we have also gained the opportunity to prioritise more passion projects. For us, that means working on meaningful projects in the third sector, charities, and think tanks.

Managing these changes hasn’t always been easy, but the company’s leadership has learnt to manage its expectations better as the years went by. Though this industry is prone to bouts of feast and famine, 10 years of experience has taught us not to fear the famine or believe the feast will last forever. Finding that kind of balance has helped us sleep better at night.

Others Remained the Same

A lot has changed over the past 10 years, but I Wish still follows its founding principles to this day. It’s a point of emphasis for us and Vijit puts it this way, “If you lose that [original spark and vision], it’s so easy to lose your way.”

An example of this is our denial of the commonly-used 5 and 50 principle. This states that, if you want to build an agency, you need five offices with about 5 to 10 people in each. We didn’t believe that approach was right for our company in the beginning and we still don’t believe it’s right for us today. Instead, I Wish has intentionally remained small so as not to allow the pursuit of growth to detract from its core purpose.

We also founded our company with a future-proofing mentality. From the beginning, we were building a culture with the end in mind. Taking the long view early is what’s enabled us to largely keep the same company culture and structure ten years later. We believe this has been essential to our intentionally slow growth.

Remembering Our Most Important Milestones

About 90% of startups fail. So, looking back, one of our biggest accomplishments was simply getting over the starting line. Once we received our first large contract, that gave us the runway we needed to build I Wish into something special.

Some other memorable milestones we had included:

  • The slow and steady growth of our small, core team to continue to distinguish ourselves from the competition and remain agile, small, and beautiful.
  • The first time we hit over a million quid in annual turnover. That was an opportunity to learn and refine the shape of the business and maintain a big picture perspective whilst also realising that a number is just a number.  
  • We’re most proud of what we’ve been managed to achieve for our clients. I Wish has created hundreds of millions, if not billions in incremental revenues for some of the biggest companies and brands on the planet. Helping companies creating this in-market success is what really drives us.
  • The business has also enabled us to achieve numerous personal milestones. These are thanks to support of clients that believed in us, champions, family, and friends who supported us along the way.

Lessons Learned

I Wish has learnt a tremendous amount from its 10 years in business. Here are just some of the highlights and lessons from the ups and downs.

Do What You Love

If our experience has taught us anything, it’s that doing what you love is always a great decision. If you do what you love, you’re probably going to be good at it. If you’re good at something, you’re going to make money doing it as long as you put in the work.

Go Against the Grain

We’re also strong believers in going against conventional wisdom when it makes sense to do so. Not everything that works for another company will work for yours. It’s important to stand up for your values and stick to them, even if others tell you that you’re wrong for doing so.

Stay in the Sweet Spot

Experience has taught us that it’s best to stay in the sweet spot between what you do well and what the market wants. Go too far beyond this, and you risk overextending yourself and your company, and somewhat diluting your own brand.

Collaboration is Key

I Wish wouldn’t be where it is today without collaboration. Co-creating with external specialists, creatives, agencies, and consultancies has helped us innovate for our clients in ways that we wouldn’t be able to achieve on our own.

Never Stop Reassessing

Industries evolve over time. Though it’s important to maintain your core values in the face of change, it’s equally essential to re-evaluate the path that you’re on as time moves forward. We’ve done that by committing to always asking the difficult questions, making a point of investing strategically as new trends emerge, and building a people-centred culture.

The Next 10 Years

I Wish hasn’t been the perfect company throughout the entirety of its 10-year existence. We’ve made mistakes. Without those mistakes, however, we wouldn’t be the company that we are today and we’re grateful to have experienced struggles to have learnt from them.

Looking forward to our next 10 years, we see more changes and more of the same. We will always remain fiercely independent and committed to our founding principles. We plan on using our core values to devote more time to passion projects like think tanks, third sector work, sustainability in a deeper sense, and transforming industries whilst also helping create a better world that we can hand over to future generations.

October 2021
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