“It was a collective creative effort to survive,” said Fabrice Sergent, referring to his company Bandsintown’s transformation amid the pandemic. “You have to go deep into the mission of the company, its values and its constituencies, to rebirth out of such a radical threat.”

Trailblazing leaders at the intersection of technology and entertainment gathered virtually April 28 at the 10 Innovators to Watch panel in the Variety Streaming Room presented by the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E and hosted by Andrew Wallenstein, president and chief media analyst at Variety Intelligence Platform.

The panelists included Sergent, co-founder and managing partner at Bandsintown; Sam Lucas, CEO and co-founder of Special.tv; Asad Malik, founder of Jadu; Alex Cyrell, CEO and co-founder of Evercast; Jichul Lee, partner and executive creative director of Giantstep; Kirin Sinha, CEO of Illumix; Steve Johnson, vice president of product and studio design at Netflix; Vidya Narayanan, CEO and co-founder of Rizzle; Chuck Parker, CEO of Sohonet; and Teresa Phillips, CEO and co-founder of Spherex.

The innovators discussed the difficulties and unique opportunities of building and rebuilding their businesses during the pandemic.

“We have not existed in a pre-COVID world,” Malik said about his immersive hologram company. “Jadu came out in March 2020, when suddenly everyone wanted to be a hologram.”

Malik added that with the lack of touring in the music industry, creators have pursued more experimental artistic media. Likewise, Phillips said that the pandemic forced Spherex’s clients to develop other processes for production of content.

“It required a lot more service and support than what we were accustomed to,” Phillips said.

The pandemic caused some companies, including Illumix, to completely shift gears.

“Prior to COVID, we were very focused around the gaming media and entertainment sectors as the major application for AR,” Sinha said. “But what COVID did was open up a whole new sector that we really hadn’t considered inside the world of e-commerce, and retail brands who were looking for a new way to reach their customers.”