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Back in November, British surfer Ben Martin entered one of our Startup Weekends. 4 months on, his surf app, Johnny on the Spot, is just about to launch. He got in touch to tell us why the skills he’s learned in the water over the years have proved essential to launching his new business.

It’s all about the Hustle


Surfing isn’t as mellow and laid back as those picture-perfect images of Malibu sunsets make it look. Out in the water can be a real hustle. Very often you’ve got to paddle out into a line-up of established and hostile faces and stake your claim for a right to be there. Sound familiar?

Think outside the box


As with business, it’s very often the people who don’t follow the crowd that reap the rewards in surfing. Those people who are prepared to take a chance and go a long way out of their way to search for new spots are the pioneers. Guaranteed they’re surfing perfect waves other people have never heard of right now. And when the bandwagon finds them, they’ll find somewhere new. Always one step ahead of the game.

Surfing teaches you failure

Leap of faith

Like nothing else. (Except maybe business!) When you first start out you’re gonna try, try and try and fail, fail and fail. Cold water will rush through your sinuses. Your arms will feel like someone’s tried to rip them from your body. People will shout at you telling you to get out of their way. And yet, you can see those guys, just beyond the breakers, gliding along the face of the waves like they were raised by a pod of dolphins. Don’t let the failure hurt you. Get back on your board, stick with it, and you’ll get there. Once again – sound familiar?

Live on a shoestring


Surfers know how to exist with very little. They can make $100 dollars last longer than most people would imagine possible. They don’t go on holidays, they go on expeditions, and they want to stay away for as long as they possibly can. Two months on a remote Indonesian island eating nothing but rice and bananas? If the waves are good it’s all worth it. Surfers make sacrifices for their passion, just like the most successful startups.

See the bigger picture


When you’re starting a business, it’s so easy to let it become your world. Tunnel vision kicks in and you can’t think of anything except the next list of potential clients you’ve got to email or what a blogger said about you on Twitter. Here’s where surfers have an advantage. A little time spent in the ocean reminds you that there’s a much bigger world out there; that you’re just a tiny part of it. That kind of perspective can be helpful when you’re stressing about how many Facebook likes you got this week.




Johnny on the Spot, The Surfer’s Personal Diary, will be available free in the App Store on 30/03/2014. To find out more about the app and what it does, check out their Kickstarter and please…donate!

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Ben Martin Ben Martin
Ben is the founder of Johnny on the Spot, the Surfer’s Personal Diary. He lives and surfs on the Gower Peninsula, on the south west coast of Wales. Besides running the startup, he works as a freelance copywriter at www.wordbutler.co.uk. He hopes you like this blog. @onthespotapp