Tanveer Patel, named one of the nation’s top 100 entrepreneurs in February by Upstart Business Journal, has been taking strategic risks since she was a young woman.
From a Western perspective, some might say her arranged marriage two decades ago was one of her first calculated bets. She wed her husband, Magbool, in India — where arranged marriages are a revered norm — and just two weeks later moved with him to Chicago, where he had a job with GE Medical Systems.
The two, who shared an avid interest and ability in healthcare technology, prospered. Tanveer Patel even started her own medical software development company. In 2003 her husband, then a vice president at GE Medical, had the opportunity to join Emageon, a medical technology company starting up in Birmingham.
After much thought, the couple decided to go for it, even though it meant she would have to relocate her company, CircleSource, to a much smaller metropolitan area.
“Entrepreneurs take risks, and I feel how you live in your personal life is reflected in your business life, ” Tanveer Patel says. “When I left India I approached it with an open mind, and I did the same when we came to Alabama.”
Moving to Birmingham only served to spur her entrepreneurial tendencies, Patel says. She continued to develop and refine CircleSource — which she sold in 2010. She also became an avid business investor, mentor and leader in the Birmingham area and beyond.
Over the years, she has helped back and advise a handful of medical IT companies, including Birmingham-based Comply MD — now Vincari — and Chicago-based Secant Healthcare.
“Birmingham has much to offer entrepreneurs, ” Patel says. “Innovation Depot is one of the world’s best incubators. UAB is really innovative and draws in the resources, and the community itself is vibrant and supportive. Also, I personally love sweet, iced tea.”
She does wish Birmingham had a bigger technology talent pool. “Good engineers are hard to find, ” she says.
In April 2012, Patel started ConcertCare, currently a rapidly growing company providing consulting and medical IT services to doctor offices. While the company now has offices in a downtown Birmingham high rise, it was originally located at the Innovation Depot.
“I enjoy starting new ventures, growing them until they are strong and profitable, and then going on to the next challenge, ” she says. “I like the creativity of starting something new. When I do that, I think I’m in my sweet spot.”
ConcertCare’s integrated medical office technology and business solutions are designed to increase physicians’ revenues and profitability. The services they sell include software development, maintaining medical records, keeping a check on regulatory compliance and finding neglected sources of revenue.
Patel and her two partners carefully developed ConcertCare in its first few years and now have poised it for strong growth, she says. ConcertCare has acquired a software development company based in India and has plans to establish an office in Liverpool, England, this summer. “We are ramping up employment from 40 to 65 this spring, ” she says. “There is nothing I love more than growing a company, and this phase of ConcertCare’s development is particularly exciting.”
Patel’s entrepreneurial talent and zeal have earned her many accolades, including national recognition by Upstart Business Journal, which honored her along with the likes of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma and hip-hop artist Jay Z.
Patel’s business-generating mindset got a head start, she says, because her father was an entrepreneur. “It’s in my DNA, ” she says. “When you grow up in an entrepreneurial environment, you learn to keep looking for ways to skillfully solve a potential customer’s problems.”
Beyond skill, she says, the critical element is drive. “The desire to succeed will beat out talent every time.”
She has also benefited as an entrepreneur by being a “global thinker, ” not just limiting herself to a local market, she says. “When there’s the right opportunity to work internationally, I go after it, ” Patel says, noting her current outreach in the United Kingdom and her company’s acquisition of an Indian software development company to help foster ConcertCare’s objectives.
Patel enjoys helping others see and embrace business opportunities as well. Mentoring enterprising new business leaders is one of her great joys, she says. “It’s like reliving the early days. The great excitement of seeing your ideas come into fruition.”
Patel serves on numerous business and community boards, including the Birmingham International Center, Birmingham Venture Club and TechBirmingham. She is co-founder and president of the Red Crescent Clinic of Alabama, a free health clinic based in Hoover. Supported by Islamic health care providers, the clinic is open to all people no matter what faith. “Birmingham has given a lot to me, and I believe in giving back, ” she says. “Contributing to the welfare of others makes life more satisfying and meaningful.”
Patel supports charitable, educational and business efforts not only in Alabama and Chicago but also in her homeland. On a recent trip to India, she and her employees planted 20 trees at a local orphanage. “If you could have seen those children’s faces. To me that’s what it’s all about, ” she says. “I believe that companies that give back prosper.”
While Patel juggles many commitments, she continues to make time for her family, she says. She and her husband support and counsel each other in their complementary career interests. Magbool Patel, now chief technology officer at Vincari, has worked for her on various projects. The couple has encouraged their two sons, still students, to go ahead and start their own businesses.
“Ours has been a wonderful partnership, ” Tanveer Patel says. “After 25 years, we’re still happily married.”
Kathy Hagood and Art Meripol are freelance contributors to Business Alabama. She is based in Homewood and he in Birmingham.
Text By KATHY HAGOOD • Photos by ART MERIPOL