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Hani Batla, CTO and CIO of Adorama

In this episode of the RETHINK Retail Podcast, Kirat Anand sits down with Hani Batla, CTO and CIO of Adorama, at the Adorama Flagship Store in New York City.

Adorama is a leading retail company with nearly 50 years of experience in photography, video, audio, and electronics equipment. They offer an extensive range of products, expert guidance, and competitive pricing, making them a trusted one-stop shop for both enthusiasts and professionals.

Throughout his career, Hani has focused on leveraging technology and data integration to enhance customer experiences. Hani’s passion for his work at Adorama also stems from his own experiences as a documentarian and content creator and his deep understanding of the needs and preferences of fellow creators.

In this episode, Hani shares valuable insights on how small businesses can compete with retail giants by embracing cutting-edge technology and personalization, as well as why the brand’s commitment to customer support, educational resources and community engagement efforts further distinguishes it as a go-to resource for creators.


Visit the Adorama Event Space: https://www.adorama.com/alc/adorama-event-space/

Nominate the next Global Retail Leader: rethink.industries/global-retail-leaders/#nominate

Connect with us on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/rethink-industries/

For more retail insights visit www.rethink.industries

If you enjoyed this episode, please let us know by subscribing to our channel and giving us a 5 star rating on SpotifyApple Podcasts and Goodpods!

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Hosted by Kirat Anand
Produced by Gabriella Bock
Research by Maggie Schwenn

Post Transcript

00:00:04 – Kirat Anand
Welcome to the Rethink retail podcast. With me today is Hani Batla, CTO and CIO of Adorama hani, thank you for being here.

00:00:14 – Hani Batla
Thank you for having me.

00:00:15 – Kirat Anand
We’re in a really cool space, and before we kick off, I’d love to just announce where we are. We are at 42nd west 18th street. We’re actually at the store, and there’s a very cool event space here that Adorama has set up. So if you’re in the area, please check it out. Otherwise, make sure you come down and take a look.

00:00:32 – Hani Batla
Yeah, it’s a great it’s the space itself is part of who we like, folks coming down here a lot about.

00:00:40 – Kirat Anand
The community, the space we’re going to get into. But before I want to kick it off a little bit about you and your past, honey. So you grew up in Singapore, came to NYU, Stern. Was it at that point you fell in love with the city and you kind of said, this is my passion, I’m going to be on the technology side of media, technology and consumer in retail.

00:00:59 – Hani Batla
Well, I was already in love with the city before I showed up here. Just coming here confirmed my beliefs of why I wanted to be here. So, yeah, I mean, it’s a great city. The energy of this place has always been exceptional and remarkable. I came here in the early 90s, so I made it my home, going to where we both went to NYU at Stern. So you get the feeling of the energy being down in the village and then the rest of the city is your you know, when you’re in one of the greatest places for technology and media and pretty much every other industry finance. Right. It’s just natural to want to be here and be part of that energy. So that’s what made me stay here and been here ever since.

00:01:40 – Kirat Anand
And then you went and worked for some pretty large media and telecom companies in Verizon, Comcast. Ericsson, can you tell me how working there maybe helped you in your current role as CTO and CIO for a privately owned company?

00:01:57 – Hani Batla
Sure. So most people know these companies as telecom, cable. I was lucky and fortunate enough to be part of the more newer startups that they were doing within these companies. So a heavy focus on streaming media during my time at Verizon ended up building out the originally the Verizon Fios product, and then after that a global CDN that today powers pretty much most of what we stream online. Same with Comcast, built the X One product and then also that was heavily into IP streaming. So a lot of great technology there. And then I would say my last stint at Erickson was actually at our startup that Erickson acquired. But that was like edge computing, deep tech. Right. But what threaded them all together was these are all experiences where I learned about doing things at scale, leveraging technology, but with a real strong eye to use cases that were about unlocking the possibilities for the future and laying the groundwork for what would make things more accessible to consumers, to creators, to media companies. Right. So a lot of that works. And now if I think take all of that and come to somewhere like Adorama, it’s simple, right? This is a company that I myself was a customer of for 13 years before I walked in as an employee. I like to think I’m a casual creator myself, had some time in the creative world making documentaries and commercials way, way back, which I don’t talk about. But here it’s the same thing, right? It’s all those skills I learned the ability to work with a diverse team, the ability to take in the needs of the end user and the customer and translate that into beautiful product and experiences. What’s nice about Adorama and why I picked this place is this whole company is dedicated to serving the community of creators. And so everything we do, whether it’s our store here or our online properties, they’re all really just about unlocking all of the possibilities for these creators. Right. We educate, we empower, and then we equip them with the right gear so that they can take their game to the next level and we’re just their partners right in that journey. So that’s kind of how it goes from Verizon to Adorama.

00:04:17 – Kirat Anand
Yeah. Being on the community side of rethink retail, I have already a bias towards community. And I’ve heard you say community now, I think six times. I was trying to count it in that answer. But I love the fact make a.

00:04:30 – Hani Batla
Drinking game out of it.

00:04:32 – Kirat Anand
I love that how you guys engage the professionals, the creators. I think you said creators a few times. Even the brands, and given our listeners, a lot of them are retailers, strategists, technologists. I would love if you can just tell them, give them a little bit of insight, how a single standing brick and mortar has built such a strong brand presence, such a loyal following. And it fights off the behemoths of the retailers that you read about, the Amazons, the Best Buys, who have this strong incumbent and balance sheet, but maybe touch upon some of the strategies you’re employing with these communities, like this event space. What else can you tips and tricks can you give some of our listeners?

00:05:18 – Hani Batla
Yes, Adorama is the single store, but we are 95% Ecommerce. But the company has been around for almost 50 years. Next year is 50 for us. So that’s going to be a big event moment for us. We’ve been in this in New York City, right? We are a New York company, but we cater to creators all across America and globally. Even, I think the furthest we have someone’s bought from us, I know is Australia or something. But yeah, I mean, our strategy is simple. It’s been the same since day one when this company started. And actually, I have a story I like to tell sometimes. When I first joined the company, I saw the first picture of the Adorama store from the 1970s, and it was the store on 34th street. And when I saw that picture, that picture really spoke to me because it was just this small store right on 34th street. And I imagine what the experience was back in the day, right? How is a company that started out in the 70s still around, when at one point, New York used to have like hundreds of stores for camera and photography and all? And I remember them. Times Square was full of them, actually.

00:06:28 – Kirat Anand
Every corner.

00:06:29 – Hani Batla
Yeah, every corner. But the thing was interesting was when I went in and I saw that picture, in my mind, it brought this image and I can talk to it. It was about how when someone who walked into that store back in the day, the guy behind the counter at Adorama knew who they were, knew what their preference for their brand or camera or lens or whatever was probably able to talk about their family or their interests or whatever. And then they had a relationship. It was a place where people kept coming back to because Adorama got them, they knew them, they offered them the right deals. And if you take that in the modern sense of what we’ve been trying to build online and the modern retail right today, those buzwords are personalization. It’s about data. It’s about really knowing what your customer wants and offering them the right product at the right time, engaging them with the right content. And Adorama’s strength is in those things. We are a community of creator. We cater to a community of creators. But what makes us great at it is because we ourselves are creators, right? So many of the folks in the company are active creators who have great audiences themselves, followers. They put out some quality content day in and day out. I wouldn’t say it’s a requirement to work here, but we all are passionate about something. I myself am passionate about drone photography. Right? Something I got into just randomly. But that’s who we are. So all that love for what we do comes through in our work. It comes through on the experience in our web, in our store, in the event space that we have, where we bring the community together. So that’s kind of at the core of it. There’s no secret sauce. It’s just we do the things we do really well. But more importantly, it’s that added value, you said, right? How do you compete against the Best Buys and all those? And the way we do it is we’re authentic. We are there to serve people who are just like us. And they get us and we get them.

00:08:27 – Kirat Anand
Yeah, you planted a few seeds. You mentioned documentaries and then drones we’re going to come into your personal journey a little bit later, but I want to focus still on anorama here. So you talked about hyper personalization and that’s been a big topic, right? You can’t talk about anyhow or have any other retail conversation without using the five buzzing letters, right? Gen AI. Right, so talk about some of the investments. And we just saw this week we saw the divergence of two big tech companies, Alphabet and Microsoft. One went one way, the other went the opposite direction. And a lot of it had to do with their investments in AI and how the market reacted to it. How does a small company again, like you compete with investments in AI from some of the other big companies? Like where are you betting as the CTO, as the head of innovation, head of technology?

00:09:15 – Hani Batla
Yeah, I mean, great question. So I can tell you it’s not some trade secret. We work with both Microsoft and Google Cloud. And as a company we ourselves have one of the things that has always made us stand apart is we are all about being at the cutting edge of technology because we find that it gives us a competitive edge. Now the thing is that edge may not last very long because the rest of the industry catches up. But we do like to build new experiences and technology has always played a huge role in this company. I mean, I can quote back to when I first joined. I found out that the founder of this organization made his first investment in technology in the late 70s when he bought his first IBM mainframe or something. I mean, it’s literally in the DNA of this company to have technology play a role in the operations of this business. Now with going to Gen AI, I can tell you we’re big believers in it and AI in general. I mean, before Gen AI blew up, we were already investing heavily in the old school AI. Right, predictive AI and all that good stuff. Actually this year we have our new used experience launching that is all about predictive AI driving a much superior used trade experience. We have a physical counter back there, but now try to convert that to an online experience where people are trying to get the right quote so they can either upgrade their camera or trade it in completely right or whatever. They don’t want it anymore. And just to make that experience better, we felt AI would play a huge role in it because we want to move away from the uncertainty comes with human solicitors and replace it with AI that can actually give the most fairest coat, really drive more business and exponentially grow it. Because you can only scale human beings so much when it comes to trade ins and all. So that’s an example on the Gen AI side, which I’m a huge, huge believer in, we’ve actually been dabbling quite a bit, I think, to explain Microsoft’s results this last quarter. I think a lot of folks really went in because they had made accessing OpenAI’s LLM so easy and accessible in Azure. I think Google cloud is catching up. I’ve had the pleasure of playing around with some of their Palm Two and Vertex AI instances, and I’m actually quite excited about the Gemini stuff that they’re promising. But the thing is, both these companies and anybody else in this space, right, they are really making the tools available to companies like us. So when you say the big companies, how do you compete? That’s the beauty about technology, right? It’s the great leveler. It makes it so much more accessible for all of us to do it because it’s like Lego building blocks. We can now build these amazing experiences, leverage all this stuff. You don’t need to be a multi billion dollar organization to now dabble in AI or build something off of gen AI. The tools that these great tech companies are providing make it very accessible. Folks like us who just have the imagination to want to do something and then we do it. I mean, I myself and my team have been really looking at the idea of how do you take this to a new kind of retail experience? And I think the greatest area of opportunity we see for us and our customers is we want to leverage all the knowledge we have today. So if you think of an LLM that’s trained on the Open Web, well, guess what? You take that LLM and you educate it with the content we create day in and day out, the blog articles, the YouTube videos, and you really make your own version of an expert in photography or the categories we deal in. And then we make that accessible to our customers in our community. And suddenly it’ll elevate their game. They’ll love us more because now we’re suddenly giving them the ability to really learn faster. I mean, they could do a thousand Google searches, but instead we just make it accessible right there on our site to go explore and learn and both pre purchase and post purchase and then extend that out to customer service and product experts. And then the use cases just keep coming up, right? You’re only limited by your imagination.

00:13:14 – Kirat Anand
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. The advances in subscription and as a service within technology and innovation have really leveled the playing field. So I like to hear that because you know what? There are only a handful of big tech, right, or big, big retailers, and then this gives us everyone the opportunity to compete, which is what we love. Now, you mentioned a lot of different innovations and talked a little about Omnichannel when you said or Omni experience when you talked about your used customers. What are some of the other non AI? What are the other, some other tech solutions that you’re excited about or particularly looking to implement or maybe have implemented within the last year or so.

00:13:57 – Hani Batla
I think our two greatest investments in the last three, four years have been around data, all things data, right? Because it’s the raw ingredient that lets you do so much more. So we just touched on personalization or hyper personalization. Adorama’s leaned heavily into that, right. We try again, same thing. We really want to know our customers. And remember, Adorama is not just one company. Actually we’re a collection of six. And so we have been in the last few years, we’ve been slowly trying to bring all those together so that we know a customer of Adorama is the same as a customer for Scuba.com, which is another brand of ours, right. So being able to have all that quality first party data on our customers across all of our different experiences and stores, we’ve been building on that. And in the world of where we all talk about the cookie list world and all this stuff, first party data is the gold mine. We’ve been investing heavily in gathering it and then monetizing it right in the way of building experiences off of it. So personalization is a huge one internally, I can say the investments in Data have all been about more intelligence internally, so we can be more nimble, faster, agile. And that reflects in everything we do, right? Whether it’s the investments our merchants make to get the right stuff and the right amount of stuff for our customers, to how we run our warehouses and DCs, and how do we optimize that and really make them all efficient. So that at the end of the day, the real benefit is for our customer. Right. The Adorama customer is most important for us. And we leverage all of that technology, all of that data to really just drive the most magical experience possible.

00:15:36 – Kirat Anand
Yeah. So you talked about forecasting and predicting.

00:15:39 – Hani Batla
Analytics, all those things.

00:15:40 – Kirat Anand
Absolutely. And then you even touched upon a little bit the Scuba.com. And that actually sets me up really well for my next question. Thank you for that. Know, a lot of consumers might not realize, but Adorama also owns Sunny Sports, you own Leisure Pro, you own Scuba.com. How do you see the integration of these channels? And was this originated just for pure revenue or was this integrated as an opportunity like you mentioned, maybe to get closer to the customer, understand your consumer better, and then leverage the backend technology innovation for multiple channels?

00:16:13 – Hani Batla
So the way the Adorama got into these businesses, very organic, right, there was growth. Our founder and then the subsequent family that owns this have always been very entrepreneurial and they have been very good at identifying opportunities that arose from them observing their customers who were buying things. Right. SCOOPA, Leisure Pro and SCOOPA, which are now one, came off of an opportunity because they saw that they were starting to sell a lot of waterproof cameras and they kind of snowballed into that. But going back to what we are, I think now, at least in the last five years or more, I know that there’s been a very conscious effort internally to really bring them all together so that when we make investments in technology, we gain the economies of scale across all these different businesses. Today, Adoramat, Scuba.com, and Sunnysports.com are all running off the same platform. I mean, we have our own internal homegrown ecommerce level, but today it went from being a 15 plus year old net monitor to a modern microservices architecture running in the cloud today. And it scales and it runs all of these experience. And we can make it special and unique by simply tweaking the front end, right? Because now the front end is all react and you can make it anything you want for any device, for any brand. And so these investments, these foundational investments, Adoram has been very good at it and our leadership’s been very good at having the long term view on what we want to do. And then when you bring them all together, the dream is that we can then meet our customers in their journey, wherever they are, right? To us, a content creator and an adventurer are one and the same. Somebody who buys a camera from us is going to go out in the right. We know that if he buys a camera with a lens designed for landscape photography, he’s not going to sit in his apartment in New York City taking pictures of his dog or her dog. They want to go out in the world and so they’ll go camping or hiking or whatever. And so there we are to inform and educate and equip them there and then the same in reverse, right? You go out in the world, at some point you realize your iPhone camera, as great as might be, may not do justice, or you may have a different perspective and you want to get a drone or something. So those are the things use cases we’ve been catering to and we’ve been constantly working over these last few years to build that experience across brands and tie them together and then back them up with one powerful technology team and platform.

00:18:33 – Kirat Anand
Yeah, sounds great. Sounds like you might be launching some service experiential where you can connect the adventurer with the creator. That might be coming soon, I don’t know. Or maybe something else. But today the Commerce Department just released numbers and it was interesting because they said last month, the month of September, durable goods is what you sell, right, were up 4.7% from the expected 2.0%, so over double. And it’s interesting because what we read in the news is wages are up, costs are up, and everyone’s hurting, but the consumer is still spending, the consumer is still confident. As you look ahead in your role and as adorama evolves, what do you see on the forefront in the evolution of the electronic camera industry? And what strategies are you guys implementing going.

00:19:24 – Hani Batla
Mean? I can be transparent and say the space we’re in electronics, it’s been a challenging space in the last year. Plus because for a while all the stuff about the economy, people being more cautious about their spending. I think the change that you’re talking about I think is just a natural phase in the year. I think Americans tend to spend as we now approach the holidays. So that’s what we’re seeing historically. This is when it starts picking back up. This is our best time of the year. We actively prepare for. This is our Super Bowl. Right. I think our view is, or my take on it, I’ll speak for myself, is I think consumers are going to spend this holiday season. I don’t know if they’ll be the same basket sizes as before, but we will see them come back. And I think the fact that the economy is starting to show some positive signals with the interest rates not being hiked in the last few times. And this is our stern background coming in. I guess I think there’s a little bit of the mood sort of softening and we’ll see. I’m still on the more cautious side. I’m not going to say this is going to be a blowout year and we’re going to break all the records. I don’t know about that, but I think we’ll be okay. I think there’s growth, there’s opportunity, but really it’ll come down to how do you make yourself stand out? It’s again, not going to be Facebook ads that are going to make you that money, right? Maybe for some, not for us, I don’t know. But it’s really going to be about the things we are doing very well here. Maybe community, it’s authenticity, it’s about being out there and getting those eyeballs and making people come to us and say, hey, you know what, I want to go here because they are going to sell me something good.

00:21:06 – Kirat Anand
Especially with the average ticket size. I mean, you have a very high average ticket. It’s not your Amazon $20 ticket. Can we share some of the numbers of what the average ticket size?

00:21:20 – Hani Batla
I can’t disclose our thing, but we do well. So we are what I would call definitely in the more luxury discretionary spending zone. I mean, we’re talking about a few hundred dollars on average.

00:21:31 – Kirat Anand
I would have probably guessed higher. And maybe you’re not using the Amazon, maybe you’re not using sorry, you said the Facebook ads, but maybe you do some YouTube ads with the 1.3 million followers you guys have on YouTube.

00:21:43 – Hani Batla
And we do have a great audience.

00:21:44 – Kirat Anand
Yeah, that’s a strong audience and a lot of them are the Alpha and Gen Z customer. Can you talk about your partnerships with PayPal and Venmo? And was that to maybe attract and retain and maintain some of the younger customers.

00:21:56 – Hani Batla
Yeah. So, I mean, you bring up payments, and payments is something I’m very passionate about because I feel like it’s one of those areas right. For personalization right. In the last few years, I’m very big about you got to meet the customer where they are with the kind of payment methods they want or the options, whether it’s financing or pay in for all of the above. Right. Our partnership with PayPal has definitely been one that’s been very good for Mean, PayPal Caters. It’s our second largest payment method after the credit card. So visa, mastercard and all. But what’s interesting is Venmo is one of our fastest growing alternate payment methods because it caters to a whole different audience. Right. And as you said, gen Z. Gen Alpha. It’s their preferred thing. It’s their form of banking now. Right. And we saw that when we implemented we were one of the first companies a couple of years back to implement Venmo on desktop, and we immediately saw it. I mean, I remember my own finance team was suddenly was like, what is this Venmo? Why are we suddenly starting to see transactions from Venmo? I’m like, yeah, it’s a thing. But the beauty of those platforms, the fact that Venmo is a payment platform and you could almost call a quasi social platform, is something that speaks to it. And the opportunities to split costs and all those things, they work for when somebody’s trying to buy a high end ticket item from us, right. And they want to share it with their friends or whatever and split the cost. So those things work. And we find that PayPal, the company itself has also made some really strategic investments with us. So that further motivates us to work with them more, and we value them for it. And they continue to come to us for new ideas, new experiences, and we have a co development partnership relationship with no.

00:23:35 – Kirat Anand
That’s I think that’s great. It’s another example of how you’re partnering with the customer, and I would love to hear about, particularly within technology and some of the emerging technologies, how you’re partnering with the customer, like the NFTs or the Metaverse. I mean, some of the more buzzwords of maybe last year, but you guys were kind of ahead of the curve over there, too, right?

00:23:58 – Hani Batla
No. Yes. So two years ago, when everybody was going crazy about Web Three and the Metaverse and NFDS, we saw for what it was, we still believe these things are all going to be relevant. It’s just were they worth the crazy hype and the buzz and the multimillion dollar valuations certain companies were having? And all around those things? Maybe not, but long term, there is going to be a home for blockchain. NFTs are a thing. They’re a way of creators being able to monetize their work and get a bigger share of the economy. The creator economy, I think, adorama has always been good at identifying those trends and opportunities. And our take is simple. We’re not on the bandwagon to monetize and make money off the NFTs. No. We want to be able to be in the market for helping the creators who are our customers, who we love, help them monetize themselves, make themselves bigger, right? Improve their art, upskill themselves. That’s our mission. And so when all those things are going up, we did content series. We did even a documentary that got nominated around NFTs. It’s what we do today. The hottest buzword, of course, is all things Gen AI. Right? And today we are starting to do a series of educating creators on how they should think of AI as a powerful tool that elevates their art versus something that they should be afraid of. So I know our amazing content teams just put out a new series out there called through the Lens, and it’s all about creators and how they’re leveraging AI to take their art or their business to the next level because it helps them be even better.

00:25:42 – Kirat Anand
And where can we watch through the Lens?

00:25:43 – Hani Batla
So it’s on YouTube. You can definitely go to our YouTube channel. And it’s a new series, through the Lens and it’s mean. I’m very proud of the work that these guys do and I think it’s very compelling content.

00:25:53 – Kirat Anand
You know, it’s unbelievable because from you, obviously you’re a creator, but you’re passionate about being authentic with the community, connecting with the creators, being purposeful in your initiatives. So you’re not just launching a technology because it’s a buzword like NFT a few years ago, or Metaverse, or Blockchain or Gen AI today. You’re really being purposeful within mean that passion speaks through. I want to talk about that passion. You kind of mentioned it a few times. You talked about documentaries and then you pivoted to drones. So take us through that little journey there, honey.

00:26:27 – Hani Batla
So there’s not much of a journey. I went to NYU and NYU also happens to have the best film school in the world. Tish. Tish, shout out.

00:26:35 – Kirat Anand
Yeah, I think the best finance school too, is Stern.

00:26:38 – Hani Batla
That too.

00:26:38 – Kirat Anand
Finance number.

00:26:41 – Hani Batla
I on the sidelines of being a business school student. I also had a passion for film and media, and so I was into that too. And I had friends who were at Tish and so it kind of picked it up, right? And I dabbled in it. Started dabbling in more and more, and at some point I really wanted to do it and so I did. And so I ended up with a couple of friends, started a content company, and we were doing productions and we were getting clients, big clients, even during in the late 90s, early two thousand s for companies in Silicon Valley. We were creating content for them in Asia and making documentaries and all. And that was the thing. Did it for a while. What was nice. Was the skills I learned from there as a producer, as a director, came through because those skill sets are exactly what I use in technology, too. Right. It’s being able to have an idea of what the overall product we’re trying to deliver, the experience, the thing we’re trying to get to that we know is going to make people feel like, oh, that’s awesome, that’s magical. Right? And that’s what we do in technology, too, today. Our goal for everything we do is a very mindful, thoughtful approach at leveraging the newest tech, but using it for the right reasons. Not because it’s the buzzy, cool thing to do, but because it’s actually going to unlock some real value for our customers. So my whole passion from that continued on on the side is that I enjoy dabbling. I don’t do it professionally anymore, but I do enjoy flying my drone. And I’m a big enthusiast for drone photography. I do have a softball for drones. I do have 15 patents on it from my time at Verizon.

00:28:11 – Kirat Anand
15 patents?

00:28:12 – Hani Batla
Yeah. Me and my buddies came up with them. So today I’m proud to say there’s a lot of use cases out there for deploying cell towers in the sky when national disasters hit a community or something.

00:28:23 – Kirat Anand
Or a country, as we say, our country.

00:28:26 – Hani Batla
We’ve done some work, but drone photography is my personal passion, and I don’t get to do it as much as I would like to. But, yeah, it’s keeping that creator alive in me. It makes me a better employee to adirondick, because that way I understand my customer better. Yeah, that’s where I would put it at.

00:28:42 – Kirat Anand
Perfect. And I always like to end these conversations with some rapid fire questions. So I’m going to start with an easy one and maybe one you already answered, but what’s your go to camera when you’re on vacation?

00:28:55 – Hani Batla
My go to camera? Frankly, there was a time I used to carry my DSLR, which was a Canon, but now my iPhone is my camera. But once in a while, when I joined the company Adoram a few years ago, I got one of these Fuji mirrorless cameras with a fixed lens. I take that. It’s compact, it’s beautiful. I love the fact that I can simulate any Fuji film in the last 50 years or something, but I do keep that on the side because it’s nice and compact. It’s a little more than a point and shoot, but it still lets me be creative when I want to be. But my iPhone is definitely my go to camera most of the time.

00:29:34 – Kirat Anand
Okay, given you started in the docuseries and you were kind of into Tish and making films, who’s your favorite cinematographer?

00:29:43 – Hani Batla
That’s a tough mean. It’s what age you look at, right? I mean, I have the Cliche favorite film? Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola, of course. Right. Then there’s the scorsese stuff that I absolutely love. Got a little soft spot for Spike Lee because he’s an NYU guy.

00:30:03 – Kirat Anand
Yeah, of course. What about your Star Wars? Star Trek? Guys.

00:30:06 – Hani Batla
Yeah, you’re not giving I am a Star Wars guy and a Star Trek guy.

00:30:09 – Kirat Anand
Seth and I were a little bit disappointed we didn’t hear any Star there.

00:30:13 – Hani Batla
I was a fan of the original George Lucas trilogy, but since then, I would say my favorite one out of the Star Wars world was Rogue One. And that one, I think, is by far the best new Star Wars movie that’s been out there. But, yeah, I mean, I dabble in everything, so I watch a lot of content.

00:30:31 – Kirat Anand
You talked about NYU, you talked about Spike. I’m going to put Tish aside. And now let’s go to Stern. Favorite professor or class that you remember at Stern?

00:30:41 – Hani Batla
So I know the class.

00:30:43 – Kirat Anand
That’s good enough.

00:30:44 – Hani Batla
It was a strategy class in my last senior year at NYU. Can’t remember the teacher’s name. I can see his face. I just can’t remember his name for some reason.

00:30:52 – Kirat Anand
But do we know what strategy it was?

00:30:54 – Hani Batla
Business strategy. It was about all those wonderful use cases around companies and what you could have done differently or better. And you know what? Those skill sets that I learned kind of helped me through my entire career so far. So kudos to them for teaching me those things.

00:31:08 – Kirat Anand
Living or dead, one individual you’d like to have a meal with also really hard.

00:31:15 – Hani Batla
Living or dead? Well, there’s so many living people I could have a meal with today. You know, I’m going to do it for my daughter. I would love to have a meal with Taylor Swift.

00:31:24 – Kirat Anand
There you go. Well, you already took her to the concert.

00:31:26 – Hani Batla
I did take her to the concert, and then I took her to the concert movie.

00:31:30 – Kirat Anand
You actually might be the most hated dad, because if you can’t bring your daughter to the meal no, I’m going.

00:31:35 – Hani Batla
To bring her to the meal.

00:31:36 – Kirat Anand
Okay. All right. Of course.

00:31:37 – Hani Batla
That’s the whole reason. Why do you think I said that? No, I mean, beyond that, I would say there’s so many other folks I would love to have a meal with in business and media and all these things, but, yeah, I’m going to do it for my daughter.

00:31:49 – Kirat Anand
Send Travis Kelsey a camera. Maybe he can get that set up for you. How about that? And then the last question is, I know the holiday season is coming up, and I was on the site, and there’s some scary good deals as I saw, like, 75% off or 70% off. What’s one item that every consumer should check out on your site? That this is the go to item that you feel like you get on the site. This is a thing that should be in everyone’s basket.

00:32:13 – Hani Batla
That’s a hard one. What’s the one thing you should have in our store? I don’t know. I mean, it depends, right? What you’re into if you’re a photographer, let’s just put it that would I would, I would say go find a good mirrorless camera because it can really do a lot of stuff for you. But me personally, I’ll speak for mine, I think a good DJI drone, get one of those DJI mini, three drones, it’ll unlock the world for you because it’s at a very affordable price point. It’s not in the thousands, it’s in the hundreds of dollars. And the level of creativity it lets you unlock and get you a different perspective on the world. It’s just next level. I’m a big fan of it. So, I mean, go get a DJI drone. That’s my yeah, absolutely.

00:32:58 – Kirat Anand
And I think I mentioned it to you. I love to travel and as I see now, more and more signs up at different venues and no drones. They don’t mind photography, but they mind drones. I think it is becoming a thing.

00:33:13 – Hani Batla
You have to respect where you are. I think anybody who’s a drone photographer or videographer will tell you that there’s always safe places to take off and go get those amazing shots or video if you’re into it. Yeah, there’s a lot of content out there. We actually put a lot of content out there for it as well. We are one of the largest sellers of drones for both commercial and consumer uses. So we invest a lot in that space. Adorama drones, which is actually part of our adorama business solutions division, is where we actually work with a lot of folks and companies and commercial uses and educate them and equip them. But yeah, that’s what I would say. Drones are a thing. They are here forever. They’re going to continue to be a bigger part of our society, whether it’s packages being delivered to us or them acting in disaster zones. So those signs you talk about, I think, are very short sighted and limited. I’m sure there was a time, there was a sign up there in one of those places that you can’t bring a camera for because they thought you’d.

00:34:13 – Kirat Anand
Capture something or the flash might ruin something.

00:34:16 – Hani Batla
But I think the right technology, the right skill and knowing how to use it, you can respect the environment, space and be safe about it and still be able to fly your drone in most places and get some amazing content.

00:34:28 – Kirat Anand
Yeah, well, Hani, I want to thank you again for your time. This is an amazing space again. 42 west 18th street. Have to come here if you’re in New York. It’s a must stop in if you’re planning on being in New York. Put it on your list, Hani, for Adorama the CTO and CIO.

00:34:43 – Hani Batla
This was a pleasure, thank you. And I like to say this is a great space to come get your holiday gifts. Can I just have you guys do a quick smile just so I can get a nice still shot of you with the microphone without the microphone.

00:35:02 – Kirat Anand
Great. Thank you. Thank you.