What’s the strategy for nailing a great pitch when you need to perform in ice cold water?

Photo: Polar Bear Pitching

Editor’s note: You can follow the pitches live starting at 6pm (EET) here.

Polar Bear Pitching – one of the world’s most challenging pitching competition – is arranged today for the third time in Oulu, Finland.

While we see pitching competitions in every single startup event around the world, Polar Bear Pitching has more physically challenging aspect as well since the pitch is performed while standing in ice hole.

How have the teams prepared for the pitching?

I chatted with several teams during the pitching competition pre-event Arctic Race day – and I found three different preparing tactics among the competitors.

1. Test how long you can stay in the water – and create the pitch based on that

Essi Rautiainen from HealthOperator told that they’re going to the water with a team of three. Their pitch has been structured based on training together, since the team has tested that they can stay in the water about 2.5 minutes.

“We have been practicing in the waters of Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo individually and together with the team,” tells Rautiainen and describes that going together to the ice hole is like a metaphor of working at a startup – it’s all about teamwork.

2. Decide how long you’ll pitch – and stay in the water for the whole time

Second strategy was introduced by Vessla co-founder Carl Kempendorf, who has moved to Oulu from Stockholm five months ago to found their startup. Kempendorf emphasizes that the staying in the cold water is more a mental challenge than physical one.

“I’ve been practicing my pitch and now it’s about two or two and a half minutes, so I have to stay in the water for that. It’s all just mental,” he tells and points out that breathing is the most important thing while getting into the water.

“I will be so focused on my pitch that I will forget the cold water,” says Kempendorf who has background in practicing Krav Maga, a highly effective self-defence system developed for Israeli Defence Forces.


3. Just do it

“I’ve practised my pitch, but I haven’t been testing it in water,” tells Didrik Dimmen, the Vice President of Marketing from Flow Motion Technologies. Dimmen has heard tips that it’s important to focus on breathing and get warmed up properly.

“I have more freestyle approach – I believe that it’s all about confidence,” adds Norwegian Dimmen, who describes that his pitching outfit will be “as small as possible”.

What does pitching in the ice hole show to potential investor?

While the teams are getting ready for their pitches also investors are heading to see enthusiastic and passionate entrepreneurs. But does the stamina of entrepreneur pitching in the ice hole convince the investors?

“Especially in the case of early-stage startup, yes,” reveals Sami Lampinen, the managing director of Inventure. “A likeable startup with a great story is what investors are looking for so this might all crystallize at the ice hole.” And if the startup stays in the sea for too long, the story might not be the only thing crystallizing.

The finalists competing over 10,000 euros cash prize and thousands of euros worth of other services from Catapult, Quum International and Mustakarhu are:

Live streaming starts from the marketplace of Oulu at 6pm (EET), and you can follow the pitches here. If you want some additional program on the side – play a pitching bingo that includes all clichés that we’re waiting to see tonight!



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