takes skies the limit approach as a female-led tech startup

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Scale Intensive Graduation Women are starting more than 2x as many businesses as 3 years ago (2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report). Hera Labs is a not for profit business accelerator that supports female founders launch startups and scale exiting businesses through experiential, hands-on education and access to capital events (Hera Fast Pitch, InnovateHER and Hera Venture Summit). We have helped more than 150 startups launch and more than 180 women-owned business scale to their next level. One of our recent Scale Intensive graduates,, has focused on scaling her tech venture, made meaningful connections for growth partners and is revenue generating. is an online marketplace platform that allows cat parents to quickly find and book loving sitters near them. After 1 year, has established a presence in nearly every major U.S. city, with an emphasis in Southern California, SF, and NYC.

Sonya Petcavich, founder of, gave us some valuable insight into her entrepreneurial journey as a female tech startup and how Hera Labs has assisted in her growth.

Hera Labs: What are the awesome parts of launching a tech startup?

Sonya Petcavich, CEO The independence and creativity you have over your product and processes! You have free reign and the sky is the limit with a tech startup, whereas when I worked corporate, you're kept in a small cubbyhole in terms of the possibilities that you can play with. I have also thoroughly enjoyed the network of highly-motivated and similarly creative people I have developed as a result of being an entrepreneur.

Hera Labs: You have tackled a VERY niche market with huge success - can you point to some aspects that have really made it a success?

Sonya Petcavich, CEO Understanding your customer and where they hang out is crucial. While my target demographic has definitely evolved over the last 6 months, running a marketplace keeps me on my toes because you have 2 different demographics: the sitters/care providers and the paying pet owners. Understanding what these 2 groups want has taken me to places like CatCon LA, Women in the Pet Industry Network (WIPIN), the depths of Facebook, meetings with travel authors, and even pitching Meowtel to boutique hotels. I never limit myself in terms of talking to new people from different industries and figuring out who could be an interesting partner to work with. There's always a nugget of gold that you discover for your business by having a conversation with a stranger.

"There's always a nugget of gold that you discover for your business by having a conversation with a stranger."
Hera Labs: What has Hera Labs intensive done to accelerate the launch and growth phase of your business, as you were still very early in your launch?

Sonya Petcavich, CEO If I hadn't found Hera Labs, I think I would have been stuck in a very deep and dark rut. I came into the SCALE program at a very frustrating point in running Meowtel; I felt like I had exhausted all ideas and didn't know where to go next. Every session at SCALE left me leaving with a thousand new ideas to test, many of which have been successfully tested and implemented on the Meowtel platform. The unwavering support I received from my SCALE cohort and all of the mentors kept me motivated and has pushed Meowtel to be where it is now, which is a spot where we are consistently generating revenue each month, though still not profitable. Hera Labs intensives force you to step back from your business and see the bigger picture, which empowers you to find the right path that aligns with your mission of why you're even in business in the first place.

"Every session at (Hera Labs) SCALE (intensive) left me leaving with a thousand new ideas to test, many of which have been successfully tested and implemented on the Meowtel platform."

Hera Labs: Where do you want to be in a year?

Sonya Petcavich, CEO I want to have a team of 4-5 full-time employees, a mini office with a cat, and be on the brink of profitability. A board of advisors wouldn't hurt either!

Check out all the media hits for makes cat sitting easy, affordable, and fun. makes cat sitting easy, affordable, and fun. Hera Labs is so honored that Sonya Petcavich was picked to pitch at the 2nd annual Hera Fast Pitch on Wednesday, August 31, 6-8 pm at Hera Hub Sorrento Valley. Come watch her pitch her purpose-driven startup to a set of judges, a room full of innovation advocates and angel investors.

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