Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Karl Pontau, Owner of Squash and Stretch Productions, located in Livermore, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I work with purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to 2x to 5x their business’s revenue and create deeper connections with their best clients, even if they’ve got a marketing team using my signature coaching programs that blend storytelling with Behavioral Neurology.

Tell us about yourself

I grew up as an artist. I did drawing, painting, and sculpting, and I was a big LEGOs kid. I got my passion for storytelling from my dad. He’s a really good storyteller. I knew I wanted to study animation when I saw the first Toy Story film. I was like, “Ooh! That! I gotta do that!” Then, at the beginning of 2002, I felt like something wasn’t quite right with me physically. I’d been a competitive swimmer my whole life, so I knew what I was supposed to feel like. But, by August, they still hadn’t figured out what was wrong with me. I had lost 50 pounds and had sunken cheeks and eyes. I looked really pale.

Then, I started to get really bad headaches. So, my parents took me to go get an MRI in Walnut Creek. We were waiting for another appointment when my pediatrician called and said he was going to drive up from Pleasanton to talk with us. We saw him walking up with this big envelope, and you could tell he’d been crying. And he brought us into a small meeting room. I remember I was sitting knee to knee with him in this big, U-shaped chair when he pulled out the results of the MRI and showed me I had two brain tumors.

It felt like I got punched in the chest. Everything sounded like the adults from Peanuts for the next two weeks, just, “WAH WAH WAH.” But I got so much help from my friends and family. People I barely knew were giving food, gifts, and other support. My high school even adjusted my schedule and got me a tutor, so I could graduate on time. So, it really inspired me to give back and help as many people as I could because I would have been dead if it wasn’t for all the help I got.

And then, in undergraduate school, as I was studying animation, there was a big Student Digital Art and Design competition. They had this big screening at the end with about 1000 people in this auditorium. I knew maybe ten people in the room. But when everybody laughed at the joke in my animation, I was like, “Oh my god, that’s so cool! I can connect with people and have a bigger impact with animation and storytelling!”

So, after grad school, I started my company. We tell exceptional stories for exceptional impact. Helping people just like you build strong, empathetic connections using storytelling and animation. Because no matter if your business is B2C, B2B, or even B2G, they’re all really H2H, which is human to human. And humans tell stories. So by helping people like you, more people get their lives improved, our client’s businesses do better, we get a happy client, and everybody wins. And I have a bigger, positive impact on the world around me. And that’s why I do what I do!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I helped a well-funded startup, Enovix, grow to be worth over $1 billion by clearly explaining what makes their new battery tech better than the rest.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Handling the mental strain and uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Network. A lot. Give to others what you want to receive.
  2. Share why you do what you do and the impact you have on people’s lives.
  3. Admit you don’t know everything, and be ready to grow.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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