In 1996, Patel attended his first industry trade show where he debuted Indian Tabac, his first brand. Although Patel is Indian, the company was named in reference to the Indian Motorcycle brand to whom he paid a royalty for use of the name. The cigars were an instant hit with retailers who clamored for all the product they could get their hands on in the midst of the Cigar Boom.
Patel was successful in establishing Indian Tabac as a premium brand by pumping his product into the marketplace and making nonstop visits to retailers. By 2003, after years of steady growth, Rocky made a deliberate decision to shift his focus away from Indian Tabac to a new line of cigars – his eponymous Rocky Patel Vintage Series – a sizeable risk at the time. Rocky wanted to leverage Indian Tabac exclusively as a “catalog” or online brand – one that could be sold over the internet at a significant discount – and introduce a fresh line of premium cigars for the retail channel. Although Indian Tabac was officially discontinued in 2015, building the brand into a success was a learning experience for Rocky.