The Emergence of a Post-COVID Landscape

By Collin Robisheaux |  May 24, 2021

InnoLead recently hosted a virtual gathering for members and company executives to discuss the future of innovation and business practices in a post-pandemic world. The conversation focused on three central questions:

  • To what extent is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your innovation strategy or your organization’s investment in innovation?
  • What are some of the most interesting or telling data points from your respective industry that speak to innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Is talent coming from the corporate world into the startup world, and where are talented people congregating in 2021?

Members discussed the advent of hybrid work, how startup companies have fared during the pandemic, the sudden reliance on e-commerce, and much more. Notes from the gathering are below. To facilitate openess, we promised to keep participant names and companies confidential. 


  • According to participants, perspectives on the hybrid workplace vary greatly — both from employees and management.
    • “I think a lot of us have adapted to Zoom, but we’re also thinking about how we can hybridize,” one participant said. “It’s not clear how we’re gonna do that, with not everyone having a home office, or headphones, or things like that.”
    • “What I’ve heard from our faculty is that [the hybrid model] is really difficult,” one executive said. “Having two worlds to cater to that aren’t in the same media or connected in the same way, it’s difficult. You almost have two different groups, and I’ve heard some faculty say they won’t do both, [and are] only really considering one or the other.”
    • “I’d imagine that employee retention is driven a lot by salary,” one member said. “If I can make $10 thousand more at this other place, I don’t have any real connection to this other place, I’m still sitting in the same place when I work — why not?”
  • Despite the pandemic, venture capital investments reached new heights in 2021. Many metrics show a significant amount of funding going into ambitious startup efforts.
    • “A lot of new ideas have been conceived, and a lot of companies are still making progress during the pandemic,” one innovator suggested. “There’s no shortage in ideas, and they’re still asking for startup money.”
    • According to innovators, the transition to virtual work has created more competition in the remote space, in part due to physical location becoming less important.
  • Innovators discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a change in e-commerce, and analyzed how the retail and food industries have been impacted by the post-COVID landscape.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic caused deliveries, online ordering, and curbside pickup to become more popular among household consumers, forcing retailers away from trying to keep consumers physically inside of stores where they could make unplanned purchases.
    • One innovator suggested that it will be interesting to see if there will be a rush of people inside of retail spaces and participating in in-person dining and shopping once the pandemic is largely eradicated. “I think this summer is going to be huge for restaurants, with outdoor cafés and dining being something they use going forward… This could be a lot of fun,” one member said. “It could be one of the positives coming out of the pandemic.”