Female Founder Focus: Joanna Woodnutt, PetLearnia

Here at the Digital Greenhouse, we're proud to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women leading the way in the entrepreneurial landscape. In our "Female Founder Focus" series, we delve into the inspiring stories of these trailblazers, showcasing their journeys, the challenges they've overcome, and the invaluable insights they've learned along the way.


We'd like to introduce you to Joanna Woodnutt, Founder of PetLearnia! PetLearnia is an online learning platform for pet parents, bridging the knowledge gap between vets and pet owners. Whether it's an upcoming surgery, a lifelong health condition or a list of tests that are difficult to understand, PetLearnia has an up to date course written and checked by vets.

We met Joanna at our 2023 Startup Academy and have followed her journey closely into the Guernsey Venture Challenge, where she won joint first place! Joanna also joined us at Showcase Guernsey in London last October. We caught up with Joanna to hear about her experiences and lessons learned creating PetLearnia on her journey to bring first-class care to pets.

Q. Tell us all about your business! What is your origin story, and the highlights of your entrepreneurial journey? 

Petlearnia was conceived on a series of clifftop dog walks with my husband, Ian. I'd been writing pet information for other people's blogs for several years but felt that I wasn't helping vets or pet owners in the way that I wanted to.
With my passion for education, we were talking about whether there was a better way to help pet owners understand their pets - and Petlearnia was the outcome. It was then immediately shelved, but being accepted onto the Digital Greenhouse's Startup Academy springboarded it into the world!

Q. Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, what has been the most significant challenge you have overcome, and how did you navigate it?

I think the hardest part is imposter syndrome. It's very hard to sell yourself or your products when you half-believe that they're pointless. How can you write confident sales pitches when you don't know why anyone would trust what you've made? How can you network when you secretly believe you shouldn't be there? Vets pretty commonly get imposter syndrome so there's lots of advice out there for vets in clinics.

My main technique is just to fake it till you make it. Look confident, sound confident, and pretend those little voices aren't there - because eventually they won't be!

"Take the plunge - you won't regret it. Even if your business fails (and most do!) you'll learn loads and have fun, and life is all about taking chances."

Joanna Woodnutt

Q. As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, have you encountered any unique challenges or biases? If so, how have you addressed them, and what advice would you give to other women facing similar situations?

I've been incredibly fortunate not to have faced any bias since starting Petlearnia, but I definitely came up against the 'women can't be vets' attitude when I was a vet student. It really shook me at the time, but I'm a lot older, braver, and more confident now. I'm lucky enough to have been born white, middle class, and living in the Channel Islands, which already makes my life significantly easier than many people's, and for that, I'm always grateful!

Q. Who are your female role models in the business/ tech industry?

I've had two amazing vets-turned-entrepreneur bosses over the years, both of whom were female. They were both decisive people with good people management skills and they definitely 'talked the talk'. Like me, they had a dream that their business would make the world better for other vets, and I often find myself thinking 'What would they do?' when I get stuck.

Another person I admire is my classmate and co-winner from the Guernsey Venture Challenge, Vic Holyoak - she's doing very similar things to me and she's rocking it!

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs who are hesitant to take the first step?

I'd say two things. Firstly, take the plunge - you won't regret it. Even if your business fails (and most do!) you'll learn loads and have fun, and life is all about taking chances. And secondly, find a community. There are female founders everywhere and we're all trying to help each other up.

Go out there and find them. Find friends, find role models, find older people who are keen to pass on their knowledge, find competitors, find your crowd. It can be a lonely road, so you need people in your corner!

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