Why would any sane person come up with an idea of having a pitching event during the winter in a Nordic country, outside, in an ice hole?
Our story started in 2013 in the prosperous and promising city of Oulu. Winds of change were blowing and major tech companies, like Nokia, were shutting down entire units resulting in large volumes of talented people left without a job. These people were capable of creating world class products, so lots of start-ups were established, and they were looking forward to conquer markets globally. The problem, however, was to find a way to stand out in global competition. How to get the word about these start-ups to investors? Oulu is not Silicon Valley, but we have something else – heaps of high tech know-how combined with our own way of doing things – and an innovative atmosphere. These things could lead Oulu to become comparable to Silicon Valley in people’s minds. The question was, how?
Another major problem the start-ups were facing was their way of pitching their ideas. The products were great but very technical and complex. It was necessary to coach the start-ups to adjust their talk. Less technical describing, so any listener would understand the idea. The companies were in need of a small encouragement to cut to the chase in their pitching.
At the time, media wrote about Oulu with quite a negative tone, as if all hope had been lost because of the massive lay-offs. But in Finland we have this thing called “Sisu” – something so unique and typical to Finnish people, that it can’t even be translated fully. Perseverance. Not giving up no matter how hard the circumstances get. Oulu was getting a cold shower, and that is exactly why it was more important than ever to show that we still have world class talent and no tendency to stay in despair.
The idea of Polar Bear Pitching got its origin from Business Kitchen, an entrepreneur hub that works as a community and as a location bringing together people from numerous fields of study and industries. This innovative atmosphere allowed people and ideas to mingle, swap and take new forms in order to create something unique.
In cooperation with Midnight Pitch Fest, the idea of a new kind of pitching event was made into reality.
Polar Bear Pitching is very much a community effort of the Oulu entrepreneurial ecosystem. The main organizer of the 2019 event is the University of Oulu.
Polar Bear Pitching’s mission is to create snowballs of success and strip down the barriers that block development and growth. We embrace positive uniqueness and pursue honesty to oneself and others.
– in pushing forward when the going gets tough.
– in stepping out of the comfort zone and aiming high.
– to remind everyone that to be taken seriously one doesn’t need to be serious.