Hiten Patel knew that in order to achieve success for his information technology staffing and solutions firm Collabera, he'd need to step outside his comfort zone.
So the co-founder and chairman purchased the 6-year-old company in 1997 — then a $2 million company known as Global Consulting Corp. — using loans from friends and family.
“If I did not put all of my life savings into this company, I would have taken it easy and would have always had a way out,” Patel said. “If you always have a window, then you don't give 100 percent.”
With the opportunity to rebrand and expand in Morristown, Collabera has since grown into a $520 million company.
And if the firm continues to increase its revenue by $100 million every year, as it has for the past few years, Collabera plans to be a $1 billion company within the next five years.
Collabera employs more than 8,000 professionals across more than 30 offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Singapore and the Philippines — with the goal to expand even more internationally.
In New Jersey alone, 125 are employed at its corporate headquarters in Morristown and more than 500 contractors are currently on assignment in the Garden State.
Additionally, Collabera employees can receive financial aid through the company's Technical Training and Educational Assistance Reimbursement program to enroll in courses at accredited colleges, universities and tech centers, or for purchasing books and reading materials related to one's career.
Collabera has found its success using a client-centric model — rather than branch-centric — to align IT strategies with business goals for Fortune 500 companies in several industries, including retail and manufacturing, communications and media, energy and utilities, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, health care, banking and financial services.
“If you look at peer companies who are of our size, they have anywhere from 700 to 1,000 clients within 30 to 40 branches,” said Ashwin Rao, executive vice president and chief sales officer. “Our entire revenue comes from 50 to 60 clients. That's it.”
Rao believes it's Collabera's “do whatever it takes” mantra that contributes most to the company's continued growth, he said.
Collabera aligns and executes its IT strategies, dedicated account teams and technology investments around whatever the client's needs are.
“If we excel in what we do in terms of quality, cost and responsiveness, clients will be happy,” Patel said.
“And if we're not in the top 10th percentile of a client's supplier list, we call ourselves a failure.”
Good thing more than 75 percent of clients rank Collabera among their top three providers.
Collabera prides itself on its Supplier Diversity Program, in which a minimum of 15 percent of its spending on contracting is dedicated toward local minority-, women-, disabled- and veteran-owned businesses each year.
Collabera is the largest minority-owned IT staffing firm in the country, according to the advisory firm Staffing Industry Analysts. So Patel — originally from Gujarat, India — is proud to be able to give back to the local community.
“Apart from our client-centric business model and talented staff, we attribute our successes to being minority-owned,” Rao said. “So we mentor smaller minority-owned companies over a period of time, share best practices and give them opportunities from various clients.”
As one of the top 10 IT staffing firms in the country, Collabera has continued its worldwide growth and expansion plan by starting locally, investing in new regions.
So far, Collabera has created more account teams in Chicago, Texas, the Bay Area, Seattle, New York and New Jersey.
“Our main objective is to have a true global footprint,” Patel said.
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Innovative idea for N.J.
Hiten Patel believes the state is good for business because of its proximity to big corporations and its strong workforce.
Patel, however, wishes N.J. would do more to create a friendlier environment for an innovative talent pool such as the highly skilled one Collabera works with in Silicon Valley
“Costs of operation are continuing to increase and the environment needs to improve to be more investment-friendly,” he said. “We achieve a lot of our innovation in Palo Alto because it cannot be done here.”