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Tech entrepreneurs pitch for funding in frigid waters


Hailey Montgomery
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 6:16 PM - When it comes to  Polar Bear Pitching, it pays to be succinct. 

The Finnish, live-streamed competition allows tech entrepreneurs to pitch their business to a group of investors while standing waist deep in frigid waters of the Baltic Sea. The goal is to get your message across quickly in order to spend as little time in the water as possible. 

Think Dragon’s Den with the temperature turned way down, and less clothing.

Kai Mykkanen, Findland's Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, makes a statement in the ice-hole on Feb. 7. in Oulu, Finland. Courtesy: Henri Luoma Photography

Competing against innovators from around the world, the winner of the Polar Bear Pitch takes home 10,000 Euro – roughly $15,000.



On the second and final day of the competition, Feb. 7, twelve finalists plead their case for funding in Oulu.

The spectacle is unique from start to finish: air guitar world champion Markus “Black Raven” Vainiopää solos, then takes a dip in the ice-hole himself. Up next is Kai Mykkanen, Finland’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Development.

Air guitar world champion Markus “Black Raven” Vainiopää performed to Finnish metal before taking the icy plunge. Courtesy: Henri Luoma Photography

Next, twelve semi-finalist companies send one lucky representative to take the plunge and make their cause to the judges, who include investors from Inventure, ReedSmith, and Amazon Web Services.

Hottubbing and ice cream. Courtesy: Henri Luoma Photography

This year’s winner was ArtiSun Technologly, a producer of LED light for indoor farming. 

Created in 2013, the event was partly in response to the shut down of Nokia, a company which was once important to Finland’s economy. 

Co-founder and CEO of winning company ArtiSun, Tatsiana Zaretskaya, stands with Polar Bear Pitching mascot Jason Brower. Courtesy: Courtesy: Henri Luoma Photography

“The emobiment of ‘sisu’, a blogpost from the events website reads. […] braving both natural elements and the economy to offer to offer small startups the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the world.”

“Sisu” is a finnish word which means to embody the country’s resilient and tenacious spirit. 

A layer of ice which formed over the ice-hole is sawed away. Courtesy: Henri Luoma Photography

The company was founded by Mia Kemppaala, in collaboration with Business Kitchen, an entrepreneurship hub for Oulu University of Applied Scienes and Unversity of Oulu. 

According to Weather Underground, the temperature dropped down to -17oC the day of the final. 

Thumbnail Credit: Henri Luomo Photography

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