Misha Fradin, Managing Partner, Lumen and Forge LLC

Misha Fradin, a Las Vegas-based entrepreneur, boasts an illustrious career punctuated by innovative milestones. His entrepreneurial prowess is showcased in the successful establishment of Lumen and Forge in 2018. This pioneering tech firm specializes in forging shared immersive and augmented experiences, stretching the boundaries of the possible. Under Misha’s visionary leadership, the company has grown exponentially, evolving from a humble home-based start-up to a bustling hub of over 25 team members within a span of five years. With a vast reservoir of entrepreneurial experience spanning over two decades, Misha seamlessly weaves creativity with technology, delivering awe-inspiring solutions that consistently outstrip client expectations.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Mr. Fradin shared his insights on the top three immersive tech trends to watch out for in 2023, his career trajectory, the inspiration behind establishing Lumen and Forge LLC, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

According to you, what are the top three immersive tech trends to watch out for in 2023?

In 2023/24, I anticipate that we’ll see a big surge in shared immersive experiences. Imagine stepping into a virtual or augmented space where you can interact with others in real-time. This isn’t some far-off future – it’s happening now, and it’s already shaking things up in fields like entertainment, gaming, remote work, education, and social networking. As our digital interactions become more dynamic and layered, we’re discovering new ways of connecting, moving, and communicating that challenge our traditional concepts of distance.

Then there’s the trend I like to call the ‘immersification’ of just about every industry you can think of. Today’s businesses – from healthcare and real estate to retail and education – are embracing augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) to create experiences that are more engaging, more efficient, and simply more fun. Imagine real estate agents offering virtual tours of far-off properties or retailers letting customers try on clothes without leaving their homes. Even healthcare professionals are getting in on the action, using VR for everything from training surgeons to providing therapy to patients.

Finally, there’s a significant disruption not on the horizon but here! The rise of the metaverse. Think of it as a collaborative virtual space born from the merging of our enhanced physical world with a persistent virtual reality. The metaverse promises to be a game-changer, redefining how we work, learn, shop, socialize, and have fun. This isn’t just about technology it’s about transforming the fabric of our everyday lives.

What changes have you seen in technology that you couldn’t have imagined 5 years ago?

Within the last five years, some technological advancements have exceeded expectations. The rapid development and mainstream adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, the progression in emerging video technologies, and the increased sophistication of 3D software technologies have really made an enormous impact on all aspects of the industry. As someone passionate about the intersection of art and technology, I have always been intrigued by the potential of these advancements.

Misha, please tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your areas of interest.

I am a seasoned entrepreneur currently hailing from Las Vegas. I have spent nearly two decades bringing visionary projects to life. My diverse professional journey began in 2004 when I co-founded NANDA, an internationally acclaimed performance art troupe known for its innovation and creativity. This experience set the foundation for my unique approach to business and my passion for the intersection of art and entrepreneurship.

In 2012, I made a strategic career transition to the field of geodesic dome manufacturing. Leveraging my entrepreneurial and artistic skills, I quickly became one of the company’s top performers. My collaborations with industry leaders like Google, Pepsi, 2K Games, and Patrón further honed my capabilities in managing large-scale, complex projects.

Upon moving to Las Vegas in 2016, I further delved into the realm of experiential marketing. In 2018, I Co-Founded Lumen and Forge LLC with my two partners Palmer Nicklas and Niels Goossens.

Under our leadership, Lumen and Forge has earned numerous accolades in experiential marketing. Notably, we received the Bronze and Gold REGGIE Awards for our immersive experience at the X Games in collaboration with Jeep. We were also honored with the prestigious Mondo Award for our instrumental role in designing and installing the world’s largest projection dome for the 2020 Miami Superbowl. My ability to manage complexity and maintain balance, which I learned from my career in entertainment, combined with strategic planning and forward-thinking approach, were integral to the successful planning, design, and execution of these landmark projects.

With over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, I continue to blend creativity and analytical acumen to deliver innovative solutions hoping to help create a better future for my team, clients, and end users.

What inspired you to establish Lumen and Forge? Brief us about its key offerings.

Driven by an innate desire to inspire and instigate transformative change in the world, I found myself irresistibly drawn toward the vanguard of technological innovation. I envisioned the potential of this dynamic field as a canvas upon which we can reshape the contours of our collective future for the betterment of humanity. This conviction inspired me to Co-Found Lumen and Forge LLC.

At Lumen and Forge, we pride ourselves on being a multi-disciplinary company with a strong foothold in immersive tech integrations. Our mission is to craft unforgettable experiences and activations for our clients, transporting audiences into awe-inspiring, extreme, and beyond-ordinary encounters. Our expertise spans the entire spectrum of immersive and augmented experiences, from projection mapping and content production to projection dome venues, 3D rendering, and event design.

While we take great pride in our adaptability, our distinctive specialization lies in 360 dome projection, a pioneering technology in the realm of virtual and augmented reality. We firmly believe in the transformative potential of immersive technology, recognizing its capability to revolutionize the landscape of communication, education, and entertainment.

Our goal is to guide our clients into the captivating world of immersive technology, helping them tap into the boundless possibilities this field presents. For us, immersive technology goes beyond providing a mere sensory experience – it serves as a potent platform capable of transforming an audience and fully immersing them in a message.

Please share the process that goes behind turning a client’s vision into reality.

The process of transforming a client’s vision into reality is a complex, yet rewarding journey that necessitates deep collaboration, an iterative approach, and meticulous attention to detail. Our primary step involves gaining a thorough understanding of our client’s objectives. This goes beyond merely comprehending their requirements – it extends to understanding their aspirations, their target audience, and the impact they wish to create. We immerse ourselves into their vision, becoming their strategic partners rather than just service providers.

Once we have gleaned sufficient insights, our team engages in intensive brainstorming and conceptualization. This creative stage sees us fusing our expertise with the client’s vision, sketching out potential ideas that align with the established objectives. As we construct the concept, we ensure it encapsulates the essence of our client’s aspirations, setting the foundation for the subsequent design and development phase.

Upon solidifying a concept, our team of seasoned designers and technologists leaps into action, transposing the conceptual framework into a tangible or digital prototype/space. This initial manifestation of the client’s vision forms the basis for rigorous testing and refinement. Every aspect of the prototype/space is scrutinized, evaluated, and tweaked to ensure optimal functionality, aesthetic appeal, and overall user experience.

In this iterative cycle, the prototype/space undergoes numerous revisions, each one progressively enhancing its alignment with the client’s vision and objectives. Our unwavering commitment to perfection compels us to fine-tune every element until we are confident that the final product surpasses the client’s expectations. We meticulously craft our solutions, not merely to satisfy our clients, but to delight them and their audiences, by turning the seemingly impossible into a breathtaking reality.

Out of all the spectacular projects created by Lumen and Forge, which one is your favorite and why?

A particularly notable endeavor was the immersive dome experience we designed for the 2020 Superbowl. This project embodied our commitment to pushing the boundaries of immersive technology, taking the traditional spectator experience to unprecedented heights. From concept to implementation, every facet of the project was infused with a vision to create a mesmerizing, multisensory experience for attendees, plunging them into an otherworldly spectacle that transcended the usual confines of event space.

Simultaneously, in 2023, we undertook a mammoth task for Nike’s All-Star game, installing a staggering 40,000 square-foot projection screen on the facade of a hotel in Downtown Salt Lake City. This ambitious project was not merely about size but also involved intricate technological interplay, utilizing our renowned capabilities. This colossal screen served as a canvas for a grand narrative, creating a captivating spectacle for the Nike “Jordan” Brand.

Despite the immense scale and technological complexity of both projects, the sense of achievement we derived was immeasurable. Witnessing the awe on the faces of the attendees as they were transported into these immersive experiences was both humbling and exhilarating. It was a clear testament to our capabilities and a reaffirmation of our commitment to redefining experiential boundaries continuously.

However, such ambitious endeavors are not the result of individual brilliance but the product of extraordinary teamwork. The level of collaboration and synchrony needed to bring these projects to fruition was unparalleled. It was a testament to the collective spirit, perseverance, and creativity of our team, with each member contributing their unique skills and expertise. In the end, it truly comes down to teamwork – a harmonious orchestration of diverse talents and minds working together to create something extraordinary.

What is the one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

In leadership, I believe empathy is a vital characteristic for any leader. Understanding the perspectives of team members and clients fosters open communication, promotes a positive work culture and loyalty, and ultimately leads to better decision-making.

What’s next for you and Lumen & Forge?

Looking towards the future, Lumen & Forge aims to explore new technologies and partnerships to expand our offerings. We’re particularly interested in how we can utilize our technology for social good, especially in the realm of education and the betterment of the human race. We’re eager to be at the forefront of the potential that immersive technologies hold.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

For individuals aspiring to excel in their technology career, I have three key pieces of advice: never stop learning, take risks and step outside of your comfort zone, and leverage technology to solve real-world problems. It’s also crucial to develop soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork, which are just as essential in a tech-centric role. Finding a mentor in your field can significantly boost professional growth and open up new opportunities. Ultimately, the journey in the technology field is an ongoing process of learning, adapting, and evolving. It’s about understanding technology but also knowing how to apply it to create solutions that improve lives and societies. As we look ahead, the future of technology is brimming with unlimited potential.

At Lumen & Forge, we’re enthusiastic about being a part of shaping that future, creating immersive experiences that inspire and engage. We believe in the transformative power of technology to improve lives, and we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Whether you’re a client aiming to bring a vision to life, or a professional seeking to make your mark in the tech world, my message is the same: embrace the possibilities, stay curious, and never stop learning. The digital realm is rapidly evolving, offering countless opportunities for those willing to grasp them. As we navigate through this exciting era of digital transformation, our collective curiosity, courage, and desire to learn will guide us toward a future where technology and human creativity intertwine to redefine our experiences.

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