Polar Bear Pitching: How Freezing Water Helps Identify the Best Entrepreneurs

Thanks to my decade-long interest in Finland (a story for another time) my mother-in-law gave me a copy of The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu.

It was a light, fun read that validated much of what I do anyway (walks in the forest, taking cold showers, saunas).

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In reading the book, however, I came across an annual event in Oulu, Finland known as “Polar Bear Pitching.”

If you look on a map, you’ll see that Oulu is pretty far north.

The event gives start-up founders an opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of would-be investors.

The only catch is…

they need to do it while standing in freezing water made accessible by cutting a hole in the ice.

I love this idea.

It forces a founder to be concise…no one wants to be in the water longer than they have to.

It shows the investors who have the mental toughness that being an entrepreneur requires.

And it’s entertaining as well.

I think it’s a clever way to market a city, a region, and an event.

Shows how a perceived weakness (freezing winters and frozen over waterways) can be turned into a differentiated strength.


Polar Bear Pitching: How Freezing Water Helps Identify the Best Entrepreneurs was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.