What was the catalyst for launching Wish I'd Known?

[Emily] It started with the personal frustration we experienced as new parents. There was so much we wanted to know, but we were overwhelmed with vague official advice, contradictory ‘expert’ points of view, subjective opinions from friends and family, and glossy portrayals of parenting on social media. Basically, there was a lot of content but not much actual insight.

One day when our son was about 14 months old, I was talking to friends about all the things we wished we’d known about parenting. The stuff that no one prepares you for and you don’t realise is normal. I got an idea that became incredibly persistent. What if we could make it easier to get a clear, unbiased view on what was really going on for many others in a similar position?

[Adam] Emily talked me through the idea, and I was struck by the potential to crowdsource the data needed to solve the problem. We got a scrappy web app up and running within three weeks with a word-of-mouth waiting list, and have been iterating since.

Tell us about the business – what it is, what it aims to achieve, who you work with, how you reach customers and so on?

[Emily] Wish I’d Known is a platform for crowdsourcing experiences around life’s steepest learning curves. Each week, users share their experiences across a broad range of topics. Then they see what others are doing, feeling and experiencing. Because it’s anonymous, there’s no judgment and no incentive to be dishonest. Every voice is equal, and results are also personalised to your situation.

We’ve been growing our parenting proof-of-concept organically, through word-of-mouth, strategic partnerships, and influencer shares. We’re now launching a version for founders, so we’d love it if you checked it out.

[Adam] We’ve been described as the ‘next generation’ of online communities, given the new form of peer-to-peer support we’re delivering. We collate and summarise a huge number of community contributions each week, so that users can access really easy-to-digest, representative insights around the topics they care about, rather than scrolling through pages of forum answers or messaging apps. What does ‘normal’ really look like? And what can we learn from the hard-earned wisdom of others further along in the journey?

How has the business evolved since its launch?

[Emily] We launched our early MVP for parents of under 3s in early 2023, and recently hit 1000 weekly active users. We’ve had hundreds of thousands of new data points and words contributed so far, and the questions we put to the community are now almost entirely user-generated. But we’ve always known our approach to capturing collective wisdom and experience is relevant to many, many more areas of life. As well as Wish I’d Known’ for founders (launching soon) we’re in discussions about a white-label proof-of-concept – e.g. for forward-thinking organisations interested in capturing the collective wisdom and experiences of their employees to drive innovation, transformation and engagement – and making those insights accessible to the whole company.

Tell us about the working culture at Wish I'd Known

[Emily] We’re a very small team at the moment so a lot of the time it’s a reflection of our married couple dynamic  I’d say considered, compassionate and candid.

[Adam] I think that’s accurate! We aim to be as scientific as possible in our approach. Questions are carefully designed, and a lot of thought goes into the communication of insights, with quality control and benchmarking happening in the background. But behind our data points are real experiences and struggles at some of life’s most difficult moments, so that means a lot of candid reflection on how we can best serve our users.

How are you funded?

[Emily] We’re currently bootstrapping. We’ve built everything in-house as founders, so running costs are low. We built relationships with a lot of investors last year and got some very helpful insight that has helped shape where we are today. We plan to raise soon once we’ve hit certain milestones with our B2B proof-of-concept(s).

What has been your biggest challenge so far and how have you overcome this?

[Adam] The incredibly steep learning curve of launching an MVP three weeks after having an idea and ensuring an ongoing positive experience for users with zero development budget.

[Emily] We’ve learnt so much in the last year – not only about building a business, but about ourselves. Perhaps the most fundamental challenge has been shifting my mindset from ‘corporate’ to ‘startup’, which includes building up the mental resilience you need as a founder and continuing to reconnect with the deeper driving force for us doing this.

How does Wish I'd Known answer an unmet need?

[Emily] Whether you’ve just become a parent, are tackling illness, navigating a new organisation, or building a company – we’re often left feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and alone. We have an urgent need for reassurance, clarity for decision-making, and solidarity. Yet, the digital age brings us information overload and low-quality clutter. The truth gets lost in the noise. We’re an antidote to that.

[Adam] Because Wish I’d Known helps fill a crucial information gap, our insights have already contributed to a parliamentary roundtable on mental health, corporate training to debunk myths, and media reporting.

What’s in store for the future?

[Emily] We know there are so many potential applications for our platform and our next focus is an enterprise white-label beta, alongside continuing to organically build our communities for founders and parents. Medium-term, building a SaaS platform so we can bring the concept to all sorts of verticals and organisations.

What one piece of advice would you give other founders or future founders?

[Adam] Funding is not the end-goal. It’s a means to an end. I’ve seen the same happen in scientific research – people focus a lot on winning grants, when what ultimately matters is results.

[Emily] Join our waitlist for founders, so you can benefit from a much wider range of experiences than just ours!

And finally, a more personal question! What’s your daily routine and the rules you’re living by at the moment?

[Emily] Meditation and exercise make a big difference for me (although being very pregnant, exercise is getting replaced with cake a lot at the moment). I also find it so important to spend time with friends and family who ground you and provide a great antidote to the startup bubble.

[Adam] Our current routine with Wish I’d Known is a delicate, chaotic balance between chasing our ambitions, juggling all our work, raising a toddler and getting ready for the arrival of his baby brother later this summer. We’re doing our best to enjoy the journey!

Emily Kucharski is the Founder & CEO and Adam Kucharski is the cofounder & CTO of Wish I'd Known.