We had the good fortune of connecting with Raphael Mortati and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Raphael, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
This all started in 2006. My father was a cardiologist but he was over weight, about 240 pounds, at that year he had his first grand daughter, he was 58 years old and he had several healthy issues due his bad eating habits. One night I asked him, ” Dad why don’t you start a diet? If you keep this life style you are going to die soon. He then started to cry and told me, I have tried all the diets you can ever imagine, but I am addicted to food and I can not change, next year he had a heart attack and passed away.
A few years latter in 2011 I have had my first child and I did a routine blood test that turned out to be very bad, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, I was over weight etc, then I thought I am going to the same way as my dad, I need to start a diet.
When I started the diet I realized how difficult is to change an eating habit, I tried some many diets and I failure in all of them.
With this experience, having realized how difficult is to change the eating habits, I decided to create the everyday food I loved with mu healthier ingredients, this is how Natural Heaven was born, I found hearts of palm to be a great raw material to create pasta, rice and mashed substitute.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My professional life starts at the early stages of my life, at the age of 11 I started my first company producing and selling organic fertilizer, then in 2004 when I started working for a Food Company, I worked there for 3 years and in 2007 I started my own business which was a Food Trading Company, this business lasted until 2017.
In 2017 I moved to the US and decided to start Natural Heaven, a company that used to sell only low pasta substitutes for made with Hearts of Palm. It was very difficult to overcome the cultural barrier as hearts of palm was not known in the USA, we had to go door-to-door explaining what the product was, what were the benefits and so on.
Distribution is a real challenge in the USA, as it is concentrated in 2-3 big companies that really squeeze new brands like us, this is the reason most of our sales today are online.
In 2019 we discovered that social media and digital Influencers, it helped us a lot to spread the word and today much more people knows the product and Its benefits.
Our mission is fight obesity and diabetes, these are epidemic that damage many peoples life’s. We create products that are a healthy version of everyday food we eat, this way we help people fight these deseases.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living in Florida for almost 5 years now, I would definitely start the trip in Miami, going to the art district, eat at my friends restaurant, Via Verdi, then I would take them to West Palm Beach to show all the beautiful beaches a great place to eat is The Captain. Going up North to Daytona Beach to show them the race track, taking them for a drink and dinner at The Roof, where you have one of the best sunset with great food.
A little further North we have the oldest city on America, Saint Augustine, this city is magical with its old architecture and rich History, having dinner at Columbia, the best Spanish restaurant I have ever been.
Go to Ocala and enjoy the springs for a day, sleeping at the beautiful west gate river ranch, a place with great live music and drinks.
Next spend a day in Tampa, exploring downtown with Its great history and beautiful places to visit as the University of Tampa.
To finish the week I would spend a night at the fun Town of Naples, exploring the beautiful sites and exciting night line in Downtown.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate it a few friends and books that have given me a lot of support and Knowledge. To my friends Steve Sahad, my wife Adri, my partner Luiz, my friend Rita. Being entrepreneur you go thru ups and down many times a day, these books have been helping a lot, Think and Grow Rich, The Law of success, Leaders eat last, Steve Jobs biography.