Pitching ideas in freezing water: Finland's eccentric answer to Dragon's Den

Pitching ideas in freezing water: Finland's eccentric answer to Dragon's Den
By Chris Harris
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Brave businesspeople have dipped into freezing waters in Finland in a crazy bid to win funding for their money-making ideas.


Intrepid entrepreneurs have plunged into icy Finnish water in an eccentric contest to win funding for their business ideas.

Polar Bear Pitching allows start-up firms to put forward their projects to investors for as long as they can stand in the freezing temperatures.

The final of the Dragon’s Den-style competition will see a dozen companies put their plans under the noses of investors.

The winner of the two-day contest — which takes place in frozen sea near Oulu on February 6 and 7 — will receive €10,000.

Start-ups who have secured funding say standing in such cold water helps convince investors they are serious.

Organisers claim millions of euros have been pledged to companies taking part in the contest, which is now in its fifth year.

“Finns like to describe their attitude towards life with one word, sisu,” said the organisers in a statement.

“Sisu stands for the spirit of never giving up and rising to meet any challenge, whatever it may be never thinking that anything would be too much to handle.

“This is the mindset you need to compete in Polar Bear Pitching as temperatures can be less than -30°C and the Finnish winter is famous for being harsh.

“It sounds extreme, but that is exactly why this concept works. Here you can really show in a very concrete way, how far you are willing to go for your business. It is easy for investors to see who is serious about their work.”

Tickets for the event cost €149 but a spokeswoman for Polar Bear Pitching told Euronews the majority of its funding came from partners and sponsors, which include city authorities in Oulu and its university.

The longest pitch was 4 minutes and 53 seconds by Finnish start-up firm InvestorEye two years ago, say organisers.

The start-ups in this year's contest came from United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Norway, Estonia, Russia, Finland, France and Latvia.

Watch: 2017 winners Virta make their polar pitch

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