The Next Era For iconmobile group: A Letter From Thomas Fellger
Like many iconic companies, iconmobile has humble origins. We started off making icons for mobile phones, because at the time that was the forefront of tech innovation, and innovation has always been our North Star. Since that time, we have transformed from a company with a meta name to a leading innovation agency in emerging industries.
Growth and transformation are at the heart of the innovation business — and I knew we would evolve, but eighteen years ago, I couldn’t have predicted we’d be a team of nearly 400 people distributed across six offices in Europe, North America, and Asia about to announce a reorg which includes a venture capital fund.
In less than two decades, our team went from designing digital products and services for mobile devices to delivering sustainable solutions and transforming business models that drive change across a range of industries, from automotive and consumer goods to financial services and health care.
To say I’m proud of the work we’ve done is an understatement. We’ve delivered incredible results and have redefined industries. We created the first connected toothbrush with Oral-B, worked hand-in-hand to define, design, and build Henkel’s digital product ecosystem by creating SalonLab, a suite of personalized hair care solutions enabling them to become independent of retailers, and are in the process of redefining the traditional business model of selling vehicles with leading OEM partners.
We keep our eye on the tasks at hand — serving our clients, ensuring our teams are up to date on the latest technologies and methodologies, and identifying the right opportunities to focus on. But, at the same time, we always keep an eye on the future. We’ve been able to identify major trends and began building ventures outside of the traditional agency model to capitalize on the areas that we identified as game-changing. Our internal work is starting to pay off in major ways, and now is the right time to introduce you to what we have been building and the future of icon.
Introducing icon group
The TLDR is that we need a company structure that better reflects who we are and what we do. In a world where the future is uncertain, we strive to be future-proof, and we can make this possible as icon group, a global innovation group offering full-service innovation from idea to scale.
icon group will be separated into two main entities: icon impact, an international experience and innovation agency, and icon ventures, a $30M venture capital fund that invests in ventures that enable traditional companies to reinvent their business models for the future.
We’ve been investing in ourselves all along. The fund is a culmination of decades of experience, bringing the work icon group has done full circle by enabling the group to invest in technologies and products that support evolving business models and drive innovation for the clients that we serve. Personally, being able to invest in projects I believe in without the red tape and the greenlighting of budgets is a dream come true. And we are onto something. I’m thrilled to share that to date, all portfolio companies under icon ventures are generating revenue.
Our iconmobile properties will now fall under the icon ventures umbrella:
- D[AI]TA, a white label sustainable laundry system that disrupts the two largest sustainability offenders: laundry and fashion. D[AI]TA filters microplastic fibers via smart washing machines, reduces chemical contaminants through smart dosing, and saves energy through smart grid washing. Additionally D[AI]TA introduces circularity into the fashion supply chain. By understanding what items have been washed, and therefore worn, retail buyers can base decisions on what is being worn in real-time, rather than relying on past data and future predictions.
- banbutsu, a revolutionary mobility experience platform that facilitates everything from sustainable last-mile fulfillment to augmented service offerings for shared mobility customers. Even the platform’s name, which means ‘everything under the sun’ in Japanese speaks to our viewpoint that everything is interconnected.
- icon incar, the leading full-service design consultancy for automotive UX. icon incar has always operated as a separate agency, but will now fall under icon ventures. It has been responsible for the creation and production of over 100 Series HMIs and 150 show cars for over 30 OEMS and counting. I couldn’t be more excited for what is next in this space. Reinventing business models from autonomous driving to how cars are developed with a focus on transitioning the automotive industry into the mobility ecosystem is the future of the automotive business, and we are leading the way.
Changing The Agency Status Quo and Calling all Visionaries
We hear frustration from clients and former employees who come to us from working with The Big Five. Unlike other firms, we don’t see our job as being done when the slides have been delivered. We are in the trenches with our partners as we work to identify the problem, develop a strategy, and work iteratively until the problem is solved. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I left the unresolved problems with our clients. With icon group, we create a vision for the future and a concrete roadmap of how we will build it together. But if you prefer the PowerPoint presentations, recycled concepts, and theoretical ideas route, you know who to work with.
Playing in consistently unknown territory and succeeding in ambiguity takes a certain kind of person, and we are proud of the team of the creative geniuses and visionaries who call icon group home. From Academy Award winners to gin brand owners, our culture and dynamic team have made icon group the success it is today. I want to thank every strategist, designer, developer, engineer and shared services colleague who had a problem in front of them without an established solution, who not only figured it out, but ushered in a new reality with the solution.
The way we approach the future has led to real results and immeasurable benefits to our clients. As an end-to-end solutions provider, we are able to provide strategies that are relevant to the entire value chain of our clients, execute on those strategies, and own the feedback loop so that we are always testing and iterating. In other words, we have skin in the game, are in it for the long haul, and commit to our clients’ long-term success.
With the inclusion of a venture fund, we can take this commitment a step further by creating the things we believe in and investing in opportunities where we have deep knowledge and proven impact, something that sets us apart.
We do things differently. Simply put, we imagine the future, and then we build it.