U.S. Marine Corps veteran Richard Rosado combined his love for cooking with a determined mindset instilled by the military to found 1PL8 — and adding Florida’s resources and business-friendly environment to the mix proved to be a recipe for success.
Born and raised in New York, Rosado credits his mother and grandmother for putting him on the path to becoming an award-winning chef and culinary instructor.
“Growing up in a Hispanic family, food is a huge part of our lives,” he said. “Every family party always ended up in the kitchen, and my mom and grandmother spent hours and hours cooking to not just feed everyone, but making sure everyone went home completely stuffed. I fell in love with that caring, kind hospitable character that was demonstrated by them.”
Rosado said he’d always wanted to join the Marines and enlisted after graduating high school. Although he only spent one week of his service in the kitchen, Rosado said he’s grateful the military instilled two vital traits that gave him an edge as a professional chef: discipline and self-motivation.
“You’d think those skill sets will never be good for when you get out, but you couldn’t be more wrong; those are the core foundations for the task of being an entrepreneur,” he said.
“As a father of three, family is everything to me, and just like every entrepreneur and veteran out there, I know family is crucial to them as well. I wouldn’t think of any other place to raise my family than here in Florida.”
Rosado added: “Starting a business is going to be one of the hardest things that you’ve ever done. It drains you physically, emotionally, and mentally, but I think what gives you the ability to withstand those pressures is your military background; it’s the persistence, dedication, and the mindset to continue moving forward that are extremely valuable assets.”
After transitioning out of the military, Rosado worked at a couple of restaurants in New York and attended the Culinary Institute of America, giving him the opportunity to learn from “the greatest culinary minds on the planet all under one roof.”
When Rosado’s parents moved to Florida more than a decade ago, he took a trip down to visit them and immediately fell in love with what the Sunshine State has to offer.
“When I came to visit them and see what [Florida] was like, I just said ‘forget it, I’ll just stay here,’” he recalled. “It’s really nice and everything is clean, so it’s a lot different than New York.”
Rosado continued: “As a father of three, family is everything to me, and just like every entrepreneur and veteran out there, I know family is crucial to them as well. I wouldn’t think of any other place to raise my family than here in Florida. I’ve been out here ever since and wouldn’t move back.”
During Rosado’s more than 20 years of culinary experience, he’s been a personal chef to NBA All-Star Grant Hill, served former First Lady Michelle Obama, and cooked for numerous entertainers, business moguls, and professional athletes. In addition to writing the book “Food is Our Greatest Medicine,” Rosado was an award-winning chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu and has held thousands of cooking demonstrations and classes for major corporations, hospitals, and organizations.
“Having the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program resources like in-person workshops, co-working spaces, mentorship programs, and in-depth groups allows veterans to learn how to mitigate the entrepreneurship pitfalls and increase business success while building lasting relationships.”
Seeing skyrocketing health insurance costs, increasing dependence on prescription drugs, and the country becoming unhealthier by the day, Rosado set out to reverse this vicious cycle and in 2017 founded 1PL8 — a health and wellness business based out of Orlando whose mission is to educate and empower consumers to manage and reduce chronic illness by using food as medicine.
1PL8 uses a two-prong approach: The 1PL8 Culinary Preventative Care (CPC) is an 8-week disease management program designed to help employers reduce health care costs while improving employee quality of life by preventing high-risk employees from becoming ill and helping chronically ill employees stabilize their conditions.
On the other side is 1PL8 Kitchen TV — a 30-minute cooking show hosted by Rosado airing nationally on NRBTV and locally in Central Florida on Spectrum and Comcast. Rosado uses a “fun and educational” teaching style to simplify cooking techniques while ensuring each episode focuses on a single “delicious and nutritious” meal that feeds a family of four for $20 or less.
Seeking out Florida’s tools and resources and building 1PL8’s business model, Rosado enrolled in the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program and attended a training cohort for startups with the Veterans Entrepreneurship Initiative (VEI).
“1PL8’s mission to help businesses lower insurance costs, retain labor, and improve productivity due to a healthier labor force is a herculean task,” he said. “Having the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program resources like in-person workshops, co-working spaces, mentorship programs, and in-depth groups allows veterans to learn how to mitigate the entrepreneurship pitfalls and increase business success while building lasting relationships.”
Rosado added: “Take that first step and let the VEI help you. I promise it’ll be worth it. One of the most important tools they give you is the business model canvas because it asks you questions that you really have to sit back and think about. Also, the opportunities and resources that VEI has to help you build relationships with other entrepreneurs that are extremely successful and can actually help you out to miss a lot of the pitfalls.”
“Florida is a great place to start a business. The state of Florida acknowledges the commitment made by veterans and honors that with support to start, grow and expand your business.”
“It has been inspiring to watch Chef Rich take his business from idea, to launch, to now scaling his company,” said Air Force veteran and VEI co-founder Ricardo Garcia. “The state of Florida is a great place for veteran entrepreneurs to launch and grow their business thanks to incredible organizations like Veterans Florida and its network partners throughout the State of Florida.”
This past summer, Rosado competed against other veteran entrepreneurs in the Battle of the Pitches at the 2021 Veterans Florida Virtual Expo. With the help of VEI, who nominated him and assisted with pitch preparation, 1PL8 took home 3rd place at the competition.
“As a natural competitor, I love challenging myself so when I found out about the pitch competition, I was all-in,” Rosado said. “It gave me the opportunity to learn from others and to take my business model and get opinions and advice from other business leaders.”
Rosado said he plans to use about 40% of the winnings from the pitch competition on marketing through social media campaigns with the rest going towards website and technology improvements.
Rosado praised how welcoming Florida is to veteran entrepreneurs and said it shows the state understands the importance of small businesses and the need to foster that through startup and growth development.
“Florida is a great place to start a business,” Rosado said. “The state of Florida acknowledges the commitment made by veterans and honors that with support to start, grow and expand your business. The financial struggles you go through when starting a business are really taxing and demanding, but the amount of resources they make available for free to an entrepreneur at any level is outstanding and really blew me away.”
As for the future 1PL8, Rosado plans to expand the company and make a positive impact on the health of businesses, families, and communities across the country.
“Our long-term goal would be to scale the company nationally to not only businesses but also municipalities, colleges, and universities and see at least a minimum of 50% reduction in chronic illness across the country,” Rosado said. “I think that’s a huge goal, but I think I know it can be obtained once we start really digging into this and then consumers and businesses start to see that it does work.”
For veterans who are considering entrepreneurship, Rosado strongly recommends reaching out to Veterans Florida and our partners and ultimately, not letting fear stop you from getting started.
“The road is tough, but so are you and you don’t have to walk it alone; you have other men and women just like you that will walk with you,” Rosado said. “Don’t let fear stop you from being who you want to be. You have everything you need to be successful already inside you.”