Still wondering whether to apply for Polar Bear Pitching 2019? Check out an inspiring story from our last year’s winner Laava Tech (Artisun at that time):
Laava Tech journey after the Polar Bear Pitching Competition
It has been 9 months since Laava Tech won the PBP competition. It was the boldest decision to apply and to go and pitch there but it was so worth it. The actual value of winning the PBP, I’ve realized not when we got 10,000 euros as a prize and not even when I got to visit Chinese Silicon Valley (which was a part of the prize), but months later. But let’s see where it all started.
Anyone can pitch when you’re in a warm room and you have all the time in the world, but the icy water aspect makes Polar Bear Pitching a totally different animal. I had read that the longest pitch in previous years was close to five minutes, but luckily I had honed my pitch down to two minutes (still was almost 3 minutes during the final). My biggest fear was that I will stop around 40-50 sec and just run to sauna.
I was scheduled to pitch in the semifinal on the first day of the competition.
When I first arrived at the scene, the organizers were quick to welcome me and handed me a cool red woolly hat (that I still have and proudly wear) and a bath rope. Organizers of the Polar Bear Pitching competition is a really great team, who was supporting us through the whole event, who were replying to our facebook messages with literally any questions immediately and they were there for us whenever anyone needed something. It really meant a lot for me as I was alone from our team in Oulu and I’ve appreciated all the support I could get.
About pitching in avanto:
The freezing water was my biggest concern, and of course I forgot a big part of my pitch during the semifinal. Even though the water was not that bad. I mean it was freezing cold and at some point I needed to stop my pitch for a sec as it felt like someone took the air of my lungs. But in overall – I was really proud that I didn’t jump out in the middle of the pitch. Progressing into the final was already a great achievement, but I really wanted more. I knew that all teams are very strong and they all had great ideas, so I was trying just to be happy that I got to the final and consider going to the freezing water twice as one of my personal biggest achievements.
About final day:
The day of the final was much crazier with a lot of people in the audience, presenters running around asking questions, and of course there were cameras everywhere, not to mention the long line of judges who’d eventually decide the winner. Though for me the hardest part was live streaming as I knew that my team as well as all my friends are watching me and I just wanted to do my best. The second time going into the water was actually harder for me (mentally as I knew what I signed up for), but there wasn’t much I could do except go in. I’m not very modest, so I will say that by the end of all pitches I just had a feeling that our startup will be in top-3 – our startup is working hard and our idea is really good and I’ve put all my passion about ArtiSun (now Laava Tech) into my pitch. But I would never expect getting the 1st place. I was really happy that I presented ArtiSun at it’s best and of course very happy with all the prizes (money will be used for the research and trip to China and is just an amazing opportunity). The rest of the day and evening was crazy with all the interviews and investors wanting to talk to me. I think I ended up with hundreds of new LinkedIn connections, a bag full of business cards, and an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
About after PBP – what happened:
After the competition, we got a big increase in traffic on our website and ended up in publications and websites around the world. I’ve seen Polar Bear Pitching and our company in the news in for example China, South-Korea, and many others. The highlight for me was an awesome article in Mashable.com. You can’t really buy that kind of PR.
In a month Laava Tech got to visit MiniSV in Nanjing, China, which is a Chinese Silicon Valley. We were not visiting alone, the 2d place and 3d place startups were travelling as well. China is a completely different world and it was really interesting to have that experience, but we wanted to validate Laava Tech in European and US markets first, before going to Asia.
So we’ve applied to the Alchemist Accelerator – Forbes recognized it as a best B2B accelerator worldwide. And we got in! I think partly it was due to the fact that Laava Tech was so easy to find in the media thanks to PBP. Also a lot of investors from Silicon Valley have heard about the PBP and it’s way easier to get a meeting with them once they know that I’m “that crazy girl” who went into a freezing water for her startup. Now we have a small office in Silicon Valley and trying to concur US market.
And lately Laava Tech won the University Startup World Cup competition in Copenhagen, Denmark. All the jury members did know about the PBP pitching and I think every participant and organizer watched the video of me pitching from the ice hole. That video is a great networking tool – you impress people straight away and they also become really interested in your startup and do listen to what you say.
I still have long lasting relations with half of the startups who took part in the competition – and that’s the best part. All startups who are brave and crazy enough to take part are the ones you should become friends with. They will understand you and will support even a year after.
The PBP gave me friends, insane media coverage for Laava Tech, also ever-lasting recognition by the startup community. But more than that, it helped me to believe in myself. After I’ve pitched from the icy cold water for my startup I knew that I will do anything to make Laava Tech a success. During the PBP I got international validation for Laava Tech.