Wanna become a Polar Bear? -Then pitch from the ice hole!

One must have a very good reason to pitch from the ice hole, ironically you understand it only when you jump in the icy waters of Oulujoki.

Roughly two years ago I’ve seen my friend Shane Allen pitching from the ice hole, it happened during Polar Bear Pitching competition. Back then I thought that he’s nuts as well as all participants of this “exciting” event.

Arttu Taponen, Shane Allen, Timo Ruohio

Most importantly, I didn’t know that in two years things and myself will change so dramatically, that I will be pitching from exactly the same ice hole.

We live in the World of constant and increasing noise. Everyone and everything around is in constant fight for our attention. In order to stand out from the noisy crowd we have to do something extraordinary. Finns have found an elegant solution of this problem:

  1. They will give you a great stage with international media and massive audience;
  2. They will give you a mic and unlimited time to pitch your concerns;
  3. One small detail — you have to do your pitch while standing in the ice hole.

And it worked! In the beginning of February people from all over the World are tuning on live translation from the Polar Bear icy “venue”. Everyone understands — you have to be committed to jump into the unknown and pitch.

This is how one of the organisers put it in a dialog with me: “When we’re explaining our idea to the investors and partners they weren’t interested until the very moment we mentioned the ice hole — then it becomes interesting.”

Going back to me and CONNAX. Two years back, when I was firstly watching Polar Bear Pitching competition I had no idea WHY should I go there and pitch something. But one year ago things have changed, together with establishing CONNAX. My life changed in 180 degrees.

Firstly I became nearly broke, risking everything I had. After a while my efforts were fully rewarded. Now I’m surrounded by the family of supportive people. Now I know why I’m do what I do. That is why when I was invited to join the Polar Bear Pitching 2018 I had no doubts to go and try myself in the icy waters.

Two weeks of preparations passed by as two seconds and I’m already sitting in the airplane heading to Oulu. Not knowing what to expect I’ve checked the weather in Oulu and was terrified there was MINUS 26°C! “Should I go back with the same flight?” — thought I. “Nope” — answered pride and curiosity. Straight from the airport I went to check the ice hole — it looked terrifying!

There was a small red barn-looking house nearby, booked by the event organisers. It has three floors: one for audience, second for organisers and third for participants. I’ve picked my badge on first floor, met organisers on the second floor and ended up by introducing myself to the startups. There was tiny thing that I had to check before even thinking of preparations — it was my pitch. It looked like:

Hello, my name is Ilya Sokolov a.k.a CEO of CONNAX…

…And I’d like to start with a question:

How do you describe Internet of Things in two words:


It’s so fucking complicated that 90% people don’t understand it…

…And people are usually afraid of something they don’t understand.

…And you know what — I will die (maybe in this ice hole:),… but until I’m alive I want to see that Internet of Things work EASY AS PLUG AND A SOCKET.

Let me give you an example: back then in every home there was a VHS player….And all of us remember exactly the same thing — blinking display, always showing 12:00AM. Why?! …because it was hard to set up. Same shit, happened to old Nokia phones…

Then some genius learned how to configure them automatically. Now Aliens don’t consider us so stupid… 🙂

The same happens with IoT devices…all the integration, security, DDoS attacks happen because…that’s right…they are FUCKING COMPLICATED.

But if we’ve managed to solve 12:00AM problem by automatic configuration…. Then why can’t we automatically configure IoT devices? Wait a minute, thought I… and created CONNAX.

….And in just one year, with rockstar team we’ve managed to create a software that automatically configures IoT devices and securely connects them to variety of IoT platforms.

It all went so well that now we have companies using it internationally and even open source community around it. It’s suitable for big industrial deployments. It has built in security…And our interest is only 0,05€ per configuration.

Join us today, and let’s create simple & secure digital future together! Thank you!

There was a slight problem with the pitch: it took 2 minutes 30 seconds to tell. 2 MINUTES AND 30 SECONDS!…unfortunately I didn’t understand that all the time I have to be in the icy water! When my turn has come it was too late. I just jumped there and there was no way out of it…My body temperature dropped from 36,1°C to 20,8°C in just two and a half minutes. But when I got out from there — I knew it was one the craziest experiences in my life.

Huge thanks to Polar Bear PitchingBusiness OuluIcebreaker VCOP and of course CONNAX to turn my fears into a pleasant reality!

-Ilya Sokolov

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