Ever wondered what happens to startups after they participated in a pitching competition? Was the participation worth all the hassle of preparing slides, traveling to distant places and networking with others? Just before our 2018 event (6th-7th of February 2018 in Oulu, Finland) and after the curiosity from our community, we got in contact with our alumni startups to ask them these same questions and more.
SATU Laboratory, 3D Bear, FirstBond Wearables and Proximio.io all participated in the finals of Polar Bear Pitching 2017. They delivered outstanding pitches from the ice hole. This time, from a much warmer place, they responded to share their stories with us.
What are you up to and how is your journey progressing?
Quite new to the startup world, but still successful in pursuing their journey is First Bond Wearables. Sandra Pétursdóttir and her team created a pregnancy wearable that brings the expecting parents together by sharing the emotional and physical experience. They are currently developing their product, Fibo, further and started to collaborate with IdemoLab DELTA in Copenhagen, which is helping them in realizing their idea.
Siim Saat from SATU Laboratory (Estonia) on the other hand, made quite an impression at Polar Bear Pitching 2017 and as he managed to pitch from the inside of an ice hole, his business is succeeding as well. SATU Laboratory - committing to bring high quality and reasonable pricing hygiene products on the market, just sold 1000 bottles of their product to the UK based startup NEXT GAY THING. In addition, they met with Steve Friess who is known for his articles in Buzzfeed, Wired, and Forbes. Friess is looking into Estonia and writing a story about top Estonian startups including Taxify, Testlio, and SATU Laboratories.
Furthermore, they were also selected as one of the 200 startups that qualified to Wolves Summit in Poland.
Not any less successful is Jussi Kajala (3D Bear), the guy who went to the ice hole with 3D glasses on and a huge writing on his chest reading “3D Bear “. 3D Bear is helping educators create an environment in which students can learn life-skills that will make them successful in the 21st century. They now have more than 100 customer schools and libraries and they also got the Junior Library Guild in the US as a distributor for their products. Over 2000 happy (promoter score 79%) and paying customers use their learning application on a monthly basis.
Not quite as easy going as Jussi’s walk into the ice hole was Annina Koskiola’s from Proximi.io. Annina seemed a bit surprised by the cold water at Polar Bear Pitching 2017. Nevertheless, she delivered a great pitch which played a role in their latest success. Proximi.io managed to close their second funding round, recruit new talents, and their sales are growing significantly. Proximi.io is a unified mobile positioning platform, and their newest clients include shopping malls in the UK and Qatar. In these locations, their platform will be used to provide visitors with indoor positioning, wayfinding and targeted location-based messaging.
How was Polar Bear Pitching beneficial for you? Any breakthroughs?
It is great to see that all Polar Bear Pitching alumni are growing and expanding their businesses. It is even better to hear that they faced great success after pitching from the ice hole and that Polar Bear Pitching was beneficial indeed.
Siim from SATU Laboratory for example who thinks “this startup event is super awesome”, gained substantial benefit from attending Polar Bear Pitching. Besides getting supportive feedback, many valuable contacts, potential investors and new friends with positive emotions, their business improved tenfold. SATU Laboratory got very much noticed by the local media in Estonia, where their sales through Apotheka pharmacies skyrocketed.
Great attention from the media was something 3D Bear and First Bond Wearables also experienced. After presenting at Polar Bear Pitching, Jussi (3D Bear) used the personalized video from the competition in his email signature. This provided an effective intro to their business. On top of that, they expanded their team in both Finland and the US and now have what they consider to be the greatest team ever.
First Bond Wearables did not grow their team much after the event, but Polar Bear Pitching put them on the map and opened many doors to great opportunities. First Bond was featured in The Huffington Post and Polar Bear Pitching taught them a lot about how to talk to people in the startup/ entrepreneur/ investment business, which has been very helpful to them.
Proximi.io took a more direct approach after Polar Bear Pitching. Investors who ended up investing in them were sitting in the audience. Plunging into the freezing water and talking face-to-face showed the investors how serious Annina and her team were. Annina mentioned that Polar Bear Pitching was a great opportunity to meet investors, press, and fellow entrepreneurs. She also declared that the feedback and interest towards their platform were overbearing.
Considering their great success, we asked our alumni to share some insights about their next steps and what they are planning for the upcoming years.
Proximi.io will focus on customer and sales, but they have also been working on a couple of exciting new features, which they will launch later this year. Also, First Bond Wearables is finishing their prototype, which they will be releasing soon. So, stay tuned for more!
SATU Laboratory is about to start a fundraising campaign through Funderbeam this month and targeting to expand to other markets rapidly and invest more time into bringing relief to people with chronic rectal diseases and cancer patients with chemo. 3D Bear is already a step further and about to close their 1M€ financing round to get more speed in their internationalization process, due to high demand from all around the world.
What’s important to know for participants-to-be?
Last but not least, we wanted our Alumni to share some advice on how to survive the cold water and pitch from the inside of an ice hole. Read carefully, so you will be prepared for your big moment.
Besides enjoying the journey, the event as well as the city of Oulu, Siim from SATU Laboratory recommends taking rubber shoes or flip flops with you. On top of that he highly recommends a bottle of spicy Valhalla before the event to deal with the cold (note from the organizers: We don’t recommend alcohol in combination with going to the ice hole). As boldly as the slogan of a huge sports retailer brand, Sandra from First Bond Wearables recommends to
“JUST DO IT! Make a crazy, short (because the water is crazily COLD), dressed-up-funny pitch and have fun!”
She continues, “It is an experience so amazing and insane and you will have a crazy story to tell.” Annina from Proximi.io adds that “Polar Bear Pitching will give you memories for a lifetime!” Furthermore, Annina mentions, “there are always big fascinating opportunities for startups as well as investors to participate in Polar Bear Pitching.”
But the boldest advice, which goes hand in hand with the recommendation from Sandra (FIBO), came from Jussi Kajala (3D Bear) who states:
“Practice is for sissies!”
With this spirit and all the motivation, we can only say “Just do it” go and apply for Polar Bear Pitching 2018 and create your very own story! We won’t leave you cold!