Whether or not or now not the once a year Polar Endure Pitching in Oulu, Finland is the sector’s coolest startup contest, it’s indubitably the coldest. Each and every 12 months, organizers minimize a hollow within the frozen Baltic Sea the place 12 marketers wade into slightly-above-freezing water to compete.
The principles are easy: Marketers can pitch for so long as they may be able to keep within the water.
“We’ve licenses and…Jesus Christ it’s chilly,” mentioned Akseli Jylhä-Ollila, CEO and founding father of Oulu-based Rat Team Studios, as he stood chest-deep within the bracing water in entrance of loads of spectators bundled in arctic outerwear as coverage towards the -10 levels Celsius temperature.
If all sounds somewhat gimmicky, properly, that’s the purpose. The speculation began six years in the past with Mia Kemppaala, She was once running in Oulu College’s startup hub Trade Kitchen. This northern Finnish town was once going via a coarse financial stretch as its biggest employer, Nokia, was once experiencing huge layoffs following the sale of its cell handset trade to Microsoft.
Town that expenses itself because the Capital of Northern Scandanavia has a inhabitants of about 400,000. And on the time, no person was once positive if its financial system would face up to the blow.
“It was once in reality pessimistic,” Kemppaala mentioned. “But if it’s tough instances in Finland, folks in reality come in combination.”
There’s a Finnish phrase, “Sisu”, that refers back to the tradition’s perseverance within the face of hardship. Kemppaala mentioned Polar Endure Pitching was once the results of Sisu. She started fascinated about how she may advertise the area’s different tech property, one thing that might draw on citizens’ recognition for mischievous humor, and one thing that would lend a hand Oulu’s startups as properly.
Specifically, she mentioned whilst marketers in Oulu gave the impression to have nice concepts, they weren’t superb at explaining them. When it passed off to her to combine within the native customized of taking icy swims, the concept that for a pitch contest started to shape. What higher option to make somebody focal point their presentation and display they may be able to take care of hardship than sticking them in near-freezing water?
“That is what’s nice about Oulu,” she mentioned. “If you have a loopy thought like this, folks embody it.”
The version I attended this week was once the 6th annual. I used to be in Oulu this week as a visitor of Trade Oulu, an area affiliation that paid for a media excursion of the area’s startup and tech neighborhood.
Sooner than the development started, we were given to walk out to the ice hollow that have been minimize in a piece of the Baltic Sea simply off town middle.
There’s a platform within the water that contributors stand in after they descend. That is to forestall them from being swept by way of currents beneath the ice and sucked the entire option to Sweden. A workforce of skilled emergency divers are seated within sight all over the development. A few extra a laugh ideas to stay on your thoughts as you stand within the icy water pitching your corporate.
After we returned within the night time because the solar was once happening, the temperatures had been plunging and the wind was once beginning to gust.
The development drew a gorgeous extensive native target audience who stuffed round quite a lot of corners to get a glimpse of the competition.
The 12 pitching contestants had been:
five. Delektre Ltd
6. funky bounce Co.
7. Rat Team Studios
nine. Simlab IT
12. New Cable Company
One after any other, they plunged into the water, lasting anyplace from 90 seconds to about four mins.
After the ones torturous short while, contestants scrambled out of the water and waddled to the primary level the place a well-merited sizzling bathtub awaited.
The panel of judges in the end decided on because the winner Bookis, Here’s their pitch, which is price looking at till the top for a unique, um, expose.
For the really curious, all of the tournament is right here as a replay:
By the point the development ended round nine p.m. native time, on the subject of everybody’s tolerance for the extraordinary chilly have been totally examined. In spite of dressed in heavy boots and an arctic jumpsuit, I had began to lose somewhat of feeling in my extremities. However alternatively, as startup pitches move, it’ll be tricky for any individual to most sensible this one when I’m sitting in a heat, comfortable auditorium someplace as a parade of marketers attempt to catch my consideration.
(Disclsoure: Trade Oulu paid for VentureBeat’s commute and lodging as a part of a media excursion of town’s tech and startup ecosystem.)