This week the city of Oulu, the town 600 km up North from the Finnish capital, hosted one of the world’s most unusual startup events – Polar Bear Pitching. The motto of the event is “We don’t leave you cold” describes the concept of the event really well – the pitches are actually happening outside, in -16 degrees C on the shore of the Baltic Sea.
Polar Bear Pitching starts with the World Air Guitar champion, Markus “Black Raven” Vainionpää who plays Taivas Lyö Tulta (The Sky Strikes Fire) by Finnish metal band Teräsbetoni and marks the start of the event by finishing his performance in the hole of ice.
After him, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development of Finland Kai Mykkänen takes over the stage (meaning, the ice hole) and delivers the speech about growth entrepreneurship in the region. The pitching competition is officially open.
The ice hole awaits its premier shots – start-up teams from United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Norway, Estonia, Russia, France, Latvia and of course, Finland. Below is the list of startups, who had the guts to enter the ice cold water and let the world know about the next big thing!
Edible. Did you know that every second approximately 700 kg plastic is dumped in the ocean? A team from Estonia fights the problem with its biodegradable cutlery. Why through your spoon away if you could eat it? We did not get to try the spoon but heard it was made of oats.
Spark Horizon. The company from France also fights against environmental pollution. Spark Horizon aims to make driving an electric car even cheaper by providing free charging stations, which also act like powerful advertising spots in the busiests locations of the city.
Tusion – A team from Russia demonstrates that one can have a cake and eat it. Their mobile app helps to improve cognitive abilities while playing games. Tusion uses neurofeedback to improve focus, productivity, physical characteristics and an increase of the K-Bit IQ Composite by up to 9 points.
Heat Experience. A startup from Norway solves perhaps the most vital problem here in the North. Tired of being cold? Check out their smart heated wear – vests and insoles. Wish they brought their product to the Pitching event – a lot of people from the audience would thank them! Heat Experience promises to heat for up to 10 hours a day without charging.
Diske. This Finnish startup puts a group of healthcare professionals in your pocket. In a form of AI. Diske’s product is an AI tool which acts as your personal health assistant. Bono will give you personalized health feedback based on your neural and humoral modeling, mapping and analysis.
Mailando. Web developers spend about an hour a day as update robots. That is about 20 hours of unproductive time monthly. Mailando reduces stress levels of web developers with Mailando magic script – an email-based content management system.
Kipu Wex. Do you remember Black Mirror’s Black Museum, where medical doctor injected an implant which would allow him to feel the pain of his patients for better diagnosing and treatment? Kipu Wex offers a more human solution to the problem – an IoT device that measures pain and distress levels. 100 percent non-intrusive and baby friendly.
Connax. The IoT is everywhere, even in the pants of a Polar Bear Pitcher from Connax. The company provides End-point services for IoT devices making it as easy as plug and the socket. The company is based in Helsinki and already works with Amazon Web Services and Azure IoT Hub.
Klever. Everyone hates bills, especially paper ones. Klever developed a smartphone application that gathers all your paper bills, electronic invoices and email invoices in one secure place, the one where you can’t burn them all to hell.
Finally, the finalists:
Cast Print – a 3D printer for creating casts for fracture injury treatment.
Cotio – a service through which you can claim back items taken away from you in the airport at the security check.
ArtiSun – led lights producer for growing plants.
At the point when most of the people in the audience care not able feel their feet anymore, the decision from judges arrives. ArtiSun won the main prize of 10 000 euros in cash. All 3 finalists received a trip to China’s Mini Silicon Valley in Nanjing, a handcrafted longboard from Jalla Board and a metallic plate crafted by the local manufacturers.
This year’s longest pitch was just a bit over 4 minutes by Finnish company Cotio. Although pretty dramatic, the pitch does not beat the time record of InvestorEye in 2016 (4:53), say the organizers.
Among all startup pitching competitions in the region, Polar Bear Pitching is probably the most epic one. It represents all essential qualities of Arctic entrepreneurs – ambition, persistence, sisu, and finally, the guts to move forward even in the most uncomfortable situations. Polar Bear Pitching is not going to stop. Save your date, 27-28 February in Oulu!