Business Kitchen is the University of Oulu’s and Oulu University of Applied Sciences’ entrepreneurship hub, and one of the main organizers of Polar Bear Pitching. Business Kitchen brings together students and entrepreneurs under one roof in the center of Oulu. Business Kitchen is part of Martti Ahtisaari Institute of Global Business and Economics. It helps companies find new ways of doing business and gives them a co-working space and a platform for internationalization.
Business Kitchen mixes traditional ideas with bold new dimensions. One of the creations from Business Kitchen is the unlikely business event, Polar Bear Pitching, which has been named the world’s only sub-zero Dragon’s Den by the Guardian. The event gathers the hot spotlight of the world to the cold waters of Oulu, Finland. For once entrepreneurs get to pitch to top tier investors for as long as they want, with no time limit. They just have to deliver the pitch standing in an ice hole, in freezing cold water! It is not just the entrepreneurs who are captivated by the challenge, but many of the investors insist on taking the plunge into the ice-hole. Even Bruce Oreck, the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, was eager to jump on the literally coolest stage and deliver an ice cool keynote. Moreover, the melodies of Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia were heard emerging from the ice hole.
The concept was created by Business Kitchen staff and the event was organized in collaboration with Midnight Pitch Fest NPO. Community collaboration being the hallmark of the Business Kitchen, the organizing team included the Oulu Student Entrepreneurship Society and several other start-up organizations in Oulu who together made the event from an idea into an event that garnered the attention of the world’s press, with articles about Polar Bear Pitching and Oulu being written in The Times, Guardian, TechCrunch, Al Jazeera, South China Morning Post, AFP and several other news agencies. As Polar Bear Pitching is noted around the world, it is helping market Oulu-based companies to the world. The second time the event was organized it attracted participants from across the globe – companies from India, Israel, UK, US, Sweden, Estonia, and Norway had trained hard for the challenge and were ready to impress the world. As the event has evolved into one that attracts the attention of international startup communities, it offers a great opportunity for Oulu’s startup community to establish fruitful relationships with international rising stars.
Polar Bear Pitching uniquely highlights the special climate of the long Finnish winter and the cold conditions that have shaped Finnish entrepreneurs and society for centuries. Instead of complaining about the cold, or the harsh economic drawbacks, we embrace it and are ready to show the world some Finnish “Sisu” i.e. perseverance, which transforms difficulties into diamonds.
Mia Kemppaala & Anne Sorvari
Oulu Business School
Martti Ahtisaari Institute of Global Business and Economics
Picture by Henri Luoma Photography
Last updated: 21.10.2015