Meet The PetMio Team: Chief Technology Officer, Co-Founder Steve O. Hernandez

Q: Tell me a little about yourself.

Steve: I was born in New Jersey, but I grew up in Hollywood, Florida. In February of 2009 I married my wife Natalie. We have three beautiful girls: the twins Noelia and Sofia, 4 years old, and 2-year-old Olivia – or “the menace”. They’re currently running around our home and plotting world domination; think Pinky and the Brain. For hobbies, I like to fish, predominantly fresh water, and am a bit of a health nut.

Q: How did you get started in technology?

S: My intrique of technology started very young. I started tinkering when I was about four or so, if you can call a four year old breaking stuff “tinkering.” I loved being able to take things apart and trying to figure out how they worked…the challenge was sometimes putting it back together without getting caught.

One of the worst punishments I’ve had growing up, for example, was for when I broke the only television in the house. Not a great day – to say the least – but I did learn that a cathode ray tube implodes when “gently” touched with a phillips head screwdriver

I followed that passion to college and graduate school where I majored in Computer Science, from my bachelor’s degree through my doctoral degree.

Q: How did you find and join PetMio as a founder?

S: Pedro and I had been brainstorming for a while about getting into some sort of venture together, starting in the medical technology innovation and then finding ourselves in the pet space. Our goal was to essentially make a big wave and make a difference in people’s lives within an established industry.

We went through a bunch (what seemed like several million) of iterations of ideas and made a few cents along the way. We wanted to leverage technology to make things more accessible, relevant, insightful, and significant. There’s so much we don’t know about our own health and this gap extends to our pets as well.  Since nutrition is the basis of pet health, we were excited to tackle that challenge head-on using cutting edge techniques, technologies, and approaches to resolves many of these challenges.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

S: I’m really lucky in that for most of my career I’ve been on teams of brilliant people. There are few experiences more humbling than being around people really on top of their game in their careers. I’m also lucky to have helped to build that environment in PetMio and surrounded myself with people I can trust and rely on. We really do have a passionate, amazing team. And the fact that they put up with me really speaks volumes of their character and dedication to our cause.

Working for an established company brings consistency and routine. After a while, that begins to feel like a prison, in both the monotonousness of the tasks and the narrowness of thought. In a startup, however, no two hours of any day are the same, which is very exciting.

I’ve always been a jack of all trades (I hate that term), so having the ability to apply a large variety of skills and talents I’ve acquired over the years makes every day extremely rewarding.

Q: What excites you about PetMio?

S: The magnitude and depth of scientific inquiry, research, and development involved is what excites me most about PetMio. The significance of our scientific breakthroughs are really unmatched in any other venture I’ve been a part of or have heard about recently.

When in academia, the work is rewarding and thoughtful. However you seldom see, or sometimes even consider, the work’s application or real-world value.  The same can be said in exclusively research roles in corporate environments; the opposite is true in strict practitioner roles (hit that nail on the head with this hammer, and then move on to the next nail).  

However, I’ve found myself in the perfect intersection of research, development, and application of pure innovation plays that are entirely focused on creating visible and obvious benefits for its end users. I’m incredibly excited to see our far-reaching impact in the lives of pets and their pet parents.

Q: Who are your pets and what are they like?

S: Yuengling is our Siberian husky / German shepherd mix. She can go from really lazy to super playful in no time at all, and is always excited to see me come home every day. My young kids love her, and she is very patient and loving with them.

Q: What advice do you have for other budding entrepreneurs and their families thinking about taking the leap into a business they own?

S: The saying that everything will take 10x longer and be 10x more expensive than you expected, is incredibly true and should not be ignored.  Make sure you have saved enough of your income to cover your bases, and then some, before making the leap. It is possible to do it, even with kids, but you need very careful planning and you need 100% love and support of your family.  

My wife has been incredibly supportive of our decision to leave a highly revered professorship after working 15 years in industry, and with 3 children under 5, to build a startup from scratch.  I’ve only been able to get to where I am because of her support… and my good friend Glenlivet single malt whisky.


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