By Faisal Masood and Sabiha Ansari
Silicon Valley, NYC, or L.A. usually come to mind when you think of a classic tech entrepreneur, but if you live in Birmingham, Alabama, chances are you’re well aware of dynamo and serial entrepreneur, Tanveer Patel. Many of her ventures have been in the tech sector including her current one as co-founder and CEO of ConcertCare, a company that provides integrated technology solutions in healthcare.
We had the pleasure of speaking to Tanveer about all that she has accomplished and her views on entrepreneurship.
So why healthcare?
“I already had such a good understanding of the industry. It was my area of expertise,” she shares. Tanveer’s previous company CircleSource, which she started and grew to 100 employees and sold in 2010 was in the healthcare services industry.
On starting her latest company Tanveer said, “My current partners and I are all IT people and most of our family members are in the medical field, so it just made sense to blend the two and develop a product,” says Tanveer. ConcertCare’s focus is on changing the landscape of healthcare by enabling physicians and patients to connect seamlessly through the use of technology.
But Tanveer is an avid entrepreneur so she’s always on the lookout for an opportunity. So along the way, when the chance to purchase an Indian grocery shop came along, she couldn’t pass it up. “I’m Indian, I love to cook and I love spices, so my husband and I decided to buy it,” she says.
Ever the techy, Tanveer wanted to really change the face of the traditional ethnic store. So of course, she brought in technology to harness the productivity by making sure all products were coded and digitized, she added an internet café, and gave it a trendy and hip feel to it. “Patel’s Spice World” became quite a staple in the small Birmingham community and the local mosque. When a couple in the community lost their jobs and were looking for business opportunities, they approached Tanveer. “It’s really such a beautiful story, “she says. “The wife came to me and said she wasn’t interested in buying a convenient store or anything similar. She wanted to have a halal business and ours was the only one she knew of and asked would we sell her our store? My husband and I talked about it…and we thought for us this store is a hobby, but for this family, this could be their source of income, so we decided to sell it.”
After putting in so much passion and effort, how did she feel about selling it?
“I love buying, building, and selling!” Tanveer states.
So what habits make Tanveer so successful? “I’ve always tried to model myself after how our Prophet Muhammad did business in a just and fair manner. He always talked about a win-win strategy for everyone. Have good contracts in place. Be persistent. Have a positive outlook and don’t let problems stop you. Find another way.”
Tanveer is co-founder and president of the Birmingham Venture Club and serves on the boards of many other businesses and non-profits, including Alabama Helping Hands, environmental group Solid Earth, Tech Birmingham and the Birmingham International Center.
She has also founded a non-profit, Red Crescent Clinic of Alabama which serves more than 700 patients without insurance. “Every Sunday, my husband and two sons, ages 23 and 17, volunteer there. It’s a great way for us to spend time together while serving the community,” explained Tanveer.
Tanveer also credits her success first to her father and then to her husband. “My father was an entrepreneur and he always taught me that if I wanted to make a difference, I had to be at the head of the table where I can influence decisions.” At the age of 19 while she was still in college, she had an arranged marriage and immigrated to the US from India. “My father also made the best decision of my life in choosing my husband for me. Twenty four years later, my husband has been my best friend, guide, mentor, and the best teacher. I’ve learned so much from him and he’s been at my side all along,” she fondly adds.
Thoughts that keep Tanveer up at night, “As a leader, it is always at the back of my mind, that you are responsible for so many people and their families. I’m always thinking how can I help my employees, my partners, and customers achieve their goals individually and within the company. Think about others before you think about yourself. Servant leadership is so rewarding,” she adds.
Tanveer’s advice to budding entrepreneurs, “You should always do something where you make a difference. Don’t run after money. Solve problems, do the right thing and money will follow you. Think of how you can be game-changing, disruptive and different. Change the way people operate- that’s very cool!”