Oulu’s Midnight Pitch Fest, also known as the most northernmost startup event, brought together early-stage startups sharing their ideas in encouraging atmosphere.
Oulu is a startup city – and that we covered already after our last visit here – but this time we headed to the ‘not so widely known sister event’ of Polar Bear Pitching, Midnight Pitch Fest. As Polar Bear Pitching gets most of the media attention of these two yearly startup events in Oulu, rare actually know that it’s the spin-off of Midnight Pitch Fest. Instead of testing the pitchers’ stamina in the ice cold water, MPF is focusing more on networking and matchmaking between early-stage startups and investors.
“We actually got the idea for Midnight Pitch Fest at Slush in 2012. When heading back to Oulu from rainy Helsinki in October, we decided that we want to arrange an event with same type of buzz here up north,” says Juuso Nissilä from Oulu-based startup Valkee and Ville Heikkinen from Butterfly Ventures, who got the idea for the event arranged now for the third time.
“At that point, Oulu startup scene was getting a bit fragmented, and arranging an event like this seemed like a great way to bring people together,” Heikkinen continues.
Focus on Pitching
As Midnight Pitch Fest has been finding its form for the past three years, pitching has stayed in the heart of the event.
During the first day of the event, a total of nearly fifty startups from Finland, Norway and Kazakhstan pitched on stage for the €10 000 grand prize. The nine finalists of the competition presented versatile ideas for hardware, services, apps and games:
Movesole: Sensor smart sole
iStoc: Mobile diagnostic solutions
Alpakka Media: Media content for children
Zemeho: Audio plugin for app and game developers (with a 16-year-old pitcher Dean Boche getting on stage for the first time at MPF)
Monidor: Smart wireless monitoring device Tipla
Modti: Movable and bending technology solutions
Glome: Relationship management service providing soft accounts
Loadbro: Logistics efficiency platform
Deep Content Company: Descriptive video search providers, who lauched their first service whatismymovie.com at MPF
The finalists of the pitching competition consisted mainly of Oulu-based companies, so the event was a great show-off of the capabilities of the region’s vivid startup scene. Even two, out of top three companies, were from Oulu.
Deep Content company was selected as the winner of the tight competition. According to the head of the jury, Christian Sundell, the company won with a fresh and innovative business idea. The winner startup is an University of Oulu spin-off, and they participated also in this year’s Yle Accelerator program.
“Deep Content Company’s business idea is a great entity with a wide market. The model is scalable and the potential is huge from the users’ perspective”, says Sundell.
The winning team of €10 000 grand prize – Deep Content Company
As the pitching competition collected hundreds of people inside the Oulu City Theatre on Thursday, there was another buzzing event arranged outside the venue at a tent – A printed intelligence hackathon PrintoCent Innofest. Walking through the freezing cold Oulu summer wind was worth it after seeing 25 companies in different stages innovating products and services around printed intelligence.
Teams gathering at the PrintoCent Innofest tent