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Aspiring entrepreneurs pitch start-up project in Finland's glacial waters

'Polar Bear Pitching' competition in Finland, 2019
'Polar Bear Pitching' competition in Finland, 2019 -
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On a blisteringly cold night in northern Finland, hopeful entrepreneurs plunged into a hole in the Baltic Sea ice in a bid to win over a panel of investors.

The annual 'Polar Bear Pitching' competition in the remote town of Oulu, just over an hour's drive from the Arctic Circle, is a chance for 12 start-up businesses to try and earn funding for their ventures.

The catch: competitors may only speak for as long as they can stand chest deep in glacial water.

Long, rambling presentations are thus off the agenda.

"It feels terrible. It feels like you get punched in the face by ten really strong guys," said Lasse Brurok, who took home his €10,000 prize along with his business partner Arne-Morten Willumsen.

The pair's energy and humour impressed the judges — who sat huddled on reindeer skins on dry land — as well as the business potential of their website which allows users to buy and sell new and used books in their native Norway.

"We came here with the mindset that we're gonna win, and it worked out" Willumsen said.

This year's contenders came from countries including the US, Kenya, Estonia and Finland.

While most managed between one and two minutes in the ice hole, the longest presentation ran to almost five skin-numbing minutes, a record in the competition's seven-year history.