Mia is the founder of Polar Bear Pitching.
Polar Bear Pitching is a business event unlike anywhere else in the world. It’s about a person going inside a hole carved in the frozen sea and asking for funding while standing in the ice hole for as long as they can.
Polar Bear Pitching utilizes the attributes of its location, Oulu, in a unique way. It combines the Finnish sauna and ice hole swimming culture with Oulu’s technological roots (from history to global communication technologies such as GSM voice calls, online messaging etc.) Polar Bear Pitching is a huge community effort from many stakeholders of the city and international stakeholders such as our sister cities worldwide (Tromsö, Leverkusen, Hangzhou, Sendai…). Right from the beginning the event has been created in creative collaboration between several stakeholders (the city, universities, students, university staff, entrepreneurs and other activists of the region) and it has included a great amount of volunteer work
Polar Bear Pitching was born when Nokia’s Mobile phones were shut down. The collapse was a major economical draw back. When engineers were left without a job, they established startups. However, Oulu’s peripheral location to global startup centers (London, Berlin, Silicon Valley etc.) posed a problem for the companies. How can these born-global companies attract needed attention in global markets?
Since 2014, they have been covered in hundreds of stories worldwide, for instance in The Times, Guardian, Newsweek, Mashable, Tech Crunch, AFP, Reuters, Xinhua News, Al Jazeera, Der Spiegel and many more, even in several inflight magazines. They have hosted side events in Norway, Silicon Valley, China, Germany and there will be one in Japan and Norway in 2019.
What can others learn? According to Polar Bears, think what makes your location positively unique. Before, Oulu marketing had phrases such as “the Riviera of the North”. Many of us try to hide the “ugly truth” – the cold, dark, snow, ice… But with a little change of perspective we can see our uniqueness as our greatest asset and advantage. Polar Bear Pitching serves as a way to demonstrate how places can bravely use underutilized assets (things that we often try to hide) as our advantage.
Mia will be talking about being true to one self and how boldly embracing ones positive uniqueness, can lead to great things.