Despite discouragement and mockery from others at the beginning of his second career, Rakesh Rocky Patel was determined not to allow his hobby-turned-career to go up in smoke. In the mid-to-late 1990s, Patel, who was born in India in 1961, developed into a cigar aficionado while he was working as a prominent Los Angeles attorney for the stars. Research shows that Patel was one of the original founding members of the Grand Havana Club. As Patel’s passion for cigars grew, he switched his occupation as a successful lawyer to cigar mogul after moving to Naples, Florida, thus igniting his career in 1996 at a cigar show in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The name of Patel’s company, originally Indian Tabac, changed to Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Inc. in 2002, due to a licensing conflict with Indian Motorcycle Company. Patel claims in an interview that he had perfected his palate for cigars by 1998. However, changing the name of the company to Rocky Patel Premium Cigars increased sales drastically, according to Patel, from the years 1999 and 2000.
Patel’s palate for perfection was enhanced by rolling up his shirt sleeves. He absorbed himself into the world of cigars, and worked hard picking up all the knowledge he can about cigars, down to the basic ingredients, particularly about the seeds, types of tobacco, manufacturing, production, and marketing. In fact, Patel breathed, learned, and lived cigars by moving to and living in Honduras for five years. There he toiled alongside the workers on the fields and in the barns to learn everything about cigars.
Patel brought his expertise to his company, and introduced his first cigar collection, Vintage, in 2002. From the successful Vintage collection, Patel developed other cigar collections such as The Edge, the Sun Grown, the Decade, and Olde World Reserve, just to name a few.
The success of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Inc., is due to the fact that Patel’s attention to details, passion, and work ethic has been consistent since the inception and launching of his company. Patel is not removed from his company; quite the opposite, as his-hands on approach has taken him all over the world with award-winning cigars. At one point, Patel traveled 300 out of 365 days one year to promote his products. He can be found in the cigar factories in Honduras and Nicaragua, in the tobacco fields of Central America where he first learned about cigars, or in the shops that sell his products.
In recent years, Patel expanded his empire from cigars to other products: apparel, ash trays, barbeque sets, cutters, DVD documentaries, flame lighters, floating cigars, gift sets, humidors, and venues. Yes, places, too. Rocky Patel opened a cigar bar and lounge called Burn at the Mercado on November 6th, 2010, at the Mercato in Naples, Florida, where he first launched his cigar business.
So, Rocky Patel followed his dreams instead of listening to his critics. Patel stated in an interview that it has finally turned out the way I dreamed of. Being a perfectionist with passion…I knew I would eventually get to this level. People laughed at me in the beginning. They thought I was a fly-by-night guy, but I had a vision to learn and do things better and better.