Principal and President
Ravi Patel jokes that throughout his career, he’s had to give himself promotions before participating in speaking events.
Mr. Patel, the principal and president of Hawkeye Hotels, remembers growing up as his parents had just started the company.
“I grew up with a screwdriver in my pocket. My dad taught me everything when I was extremely young,” he said.
Founded in 1982 with one hotel in Mena, Ark., Hawkeye Hotels has become one of the fastest-growing family-owned hospitality companies in the country.
Mr. Patel has helped the business grow.
“Since his involvement, the total portfolio of Hawkeye Hotels has quadrupled in size, with more than 6,500 rooms open or soon to be, and employs over 1,500 employees,” stated Andy Stoll, with Seed Here Studios, in his nomination of Mr. Patel. “These properties will create an estimated 20-year economic impact of over $4 billion in the state alone.”
Hawkeye Hotels owns and operates more than $400 million in assets across the Midwest. Hawkeye Hotels has affiliations with several brands, including Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental and Starwood.
Mr. Patel has also been active in the startup and entrepreneurial scene. He is cofounder and executive producer of Backrow Studios (a filmmaking company), cofounder and principal at Ellison Sunglass Company (a philanthropically-driven organization that donates a cataract surgery in a developing country for every pair of glasses purchased); and is co-founder of Built By Iowa, a business incubator that launched this fall.
“The past few years, I have explored other ventures; just about everyone that is associated with the ventures is a good friend whose dream it is to do something great. I love helping them get there,” Mr. Patel said.
Mr. Patel received a degree in business management and entrepreneurship from the University of Iowa. He is originally from Burlington and lives in Iowa City.
His experience at the UI made a lasting impact.
“That synergy at the university proved pretty true for me; I met the most amazing people here,” he said. “Being involved in student government, a business fraternity, entrepreneur club, many of those organizations helped shape my character.”