Chapter 19: A real test of belief


Demos Demetriou

Chapter 19: A real test of belief

Have you ever heard of the Blondin test? It’s a test that Nargis and Steph would pass with flying colours if they had to take the test. Belief is such an important part of a startup. Founders, teams, investors and even users have to believe in your product and the people. Without it, can you really succeed, especially in the beginning when you need to get people onboard? It was clearly something that Jean Francois Gravelot felt he needed to test in 1859. Can you imagine having this as part of an interview process!!

The story below originated by John Gratehouse.

"Jean Francois Gravelot, who wisely abandoned his given name and dubbed himself The Great Blondin, was a true rock star of the 19th Century. On June 30, 1859, at the height of his fame, he stood before a crowd of tens of thousands of people at Niagara Falls.

The Great Blondin began his Niagara show by crossing the Falls on a tightrope three inches in diameter. Although the cable spanned 1,100-foot and was 160 feet above the raging waters, the trek was fairly pedestrian for a man of his skills. Always the showman, he nonetheless choreographed a few wobbles and slips in his initial crossing in order to heighten the drama.

He then addressed the crowd, asking them if they believed he could cross the Falls blindfolded. The crowd predictably cheered, “Yes, yes. We believe, we believe, we believe!” Much to their delight, Blondin donned a blindfold and made a roundtrip across the tightrope.

He then asked the crowd, “Do you believe I can cross pushing a wheelbarrow?” Again the crowd riotously chanted, “We believe, we believe, we believe!”

Blondin successfully crossed the Falls pushing a wheelbarrow. Blondin then whipped the crowed into a frenzy before shouting, “Do you believe that I can cross with a man on my back?” Again the crowd hysterically shouted back, “We believe, we believe, we believe!”

Blondin smiled broadly and shouted back to the cheering throng, “It is great that you believe in me. Now who wants to get on my back?”


What happened after Blondin silenced the crowd by challenging their belief? Did a drunken fool stumble from the throngs and take Blondin up on his offer of a free ride over the Falls?

No such fool, drunk or otherwise, emerged from the crowd. Instead, Blondin’s manager, Harry Colcord, climbed aboard Blondin’s back and the two men successfully made the journey without a mishap."

Passing with flying colours

I could really relate to this story when I read it as I’m sure many other founders will. Without knowing it at the time my team have climbed aboard my back as we venture across the startup journey tightrope. In my previous rants about advisors and consultants they clearly would not have passed the Blondin test unless they were paid a significant amount of money to do so!

With any venture, one key factor revolves around the people involved. In order to get the right people they have to believe in you and the business. I don’t recommend a trip across Niagara Falls to test them because you should know if they are committed to your cause quite early on. If they’re not then the challenges in a startup will soon highlight any lack in belief they may have in your startup.

It’s difficult to say if there is an actual test out there that could determine if people do believe. I think people’s actions always speak louder than words. My team’s actions have spoken louder than any words of belief. I’ve said before that I’m lucky to have them. Now knowing they would have passed the Blondin test with flying colours I’m even luckier.

As our team starts to grow they too will have to pass the test. I’m not sure they would be willing to climb my back and venture across Niagara Falls so we will have to find an alternative way to test this!

I hope that you have such people in your own team because it does make the journey a little easier and more fun. Given how challenging the road in startup land can be you need all the help you can possibly get.

Some updates

We’re excited about a new employer who trialled the platform last week. It was Coya Restaurant in Mayfair who was recommended to the Marlin App. We look forward to them contacting Job Seekers in the community not just for London but eventually some of their international restaurants. For anybody who has dined at Coya, you will know the high standard of food that is served there and the great opportunity it could be for hospitality staff to join their group. If you know any high-end restaurant Job Seekers you know what to do… get them to the App so they can be contacted about such opportunities.

We also had a great meeting last week with the consultant I spoke about in Chapter 18 and I hope in the not-too-distant future I can mention his name, and talk more about what he is helping us with. I think it will be hugely valuable to other startup founders to talk about his involvement here. He has some great ideas and some excellent experience to match which I’m sure others will be able to apply to their own ventures.

One such idea was a recommendation to attend the Host 2019. Although it is geared up more for holiday rentals, there are many hotels and VC’s attending. We have also been accepted in their startup zone which gives us the opportunity to pitch to VC’s and Hoteliers. It’s very exciting and the first show that we would have exhibited at. If you’re in London on 31st October why not pop in and see us.

I’ve been really busy recently working on revised versions of the Apps. These new versions will be faster, have a few more features and generally look and feel better for users. As I’m sure you all know technology changes very quickly so keeping up with it is important.

Steph and Nargis are busy getting more and more candidates and employers on the platform and growing the community. As always the feedback from all users is so valuable and we are implementing as many suggestions as we can.

It’s back to some coding for now so until next week…