If you thought hackathons were only for engineers and coders, think again.
More companies are starting to run their own hackathons both in-house and public, to generate new products, vet quality talent or connect themselves with leading industries.
And while the biggest appeal of running a hackathon is how much can be achieved in such little time, more businesses are catching on to just how much it can do for their bottom line.
We’ve rounded up seven of the biggest reasons why your company should run a hackathon. Yes, you!
Did you know that over 80% of Fortune 100 companies run hackathons to drive innovation? More than 50% of them are recurring events.
When you run a hackathon, you’re doing more than simply running an event. You’re giving your company the best possible opportunity to innovate.
Think of how fast ideas and decisions get made during a three-day hackathon. Teams meet (virtually) on a Friday and potentially have a viable product on Sunday. It’s practically, if not completely, impossible to match that level of risk-taking and solution-based thinking on a day-to-day basis.
Hosting a hackathon is a tangible way to explore what your community has to offer. You learn about industry developments while generating fresh ideas from the brightest talent. If that’s not reason enough, keep reading.
Hackathons are incredibly fast-paced, hectic, and high energy—and it’s a perfect opportunity to get people talking about your company.
Whether it’s a physical event (we’ll wait a bit longer for that) or virtual, a hackathon brings people together to work on projects and create innovative solutions under your company’s branding.
When you decide to run a hackathon, you’re letting potential talent know that you value innovation and think outside the box.
By building that community of teams within such a short space of time, you can strengthen your company’s presence in the industry and connect your name to innovation within a matter of days.
One of the most underrated things that happen to companies that run a hackathon?
Put yourself in the media’s shoes for a second. There are 50 app development companies in the area, and four of them run hackathons on a regular basis. How would those four companies look to you, compared to the other 46?
Digitally-savvy. Progressive. Young. Innovative.
Showing the world that you go out of your way to give employees and your extended community a real opportunity to express themselves, think outside the box, and create real solutions, is a pretty hot look.
Poor hiring decisions count for 80% of employee turnover, according to the Harvard Review. It’s not difficult to see why—we know job interviews aren’t the most productive way to gauge a candidate’s ability and it definitely doesn’t give a full 360-degree view of a person’s skill set.
But say you’re looking for a young and talented coding whizz? There’s no better place to find her than a hackathon.
Hackathons are focused on doing, not talking. It means you can instantly see how people deal with fast-paced environments, and what they’re capable of under pressure and working within a team.
And whether it’s a physical or virtual event, hackathons are made up of people who want to showcase their skills and find new career opportunities. Some of them may be actively seeking to establish new professional relationships.
Rather than conducting interview after interview, you can find skilled minds in a talent-rich environment. Watch them in action, reach out to them, and start a new working relationship.
A hackathon forces participants to work frantically (and often around the clock) on a single project, for a short period of time. Then, it’s time to forget about it and move on completely.
For engineers, coders, and software developers, in particular, that intensity is a welcomed break from the monotony of working on the same products day in day out.
Working for a few hours in teams without meetings or phone calls, towards a common goal can help lift employees out of their normal roles and take a mental break from their usual routine.
When you run a hackathon, you encourage collaboration and creativity in a setting built for team building and positive competition.
And it’s also fun! Hackathons are great fun for participants involved, and the high adrenaline, competitive energy, and ticking clock just make it that much more exciting to look forward to. And even outside engineering and software, the complete change of pace is a great way to boost team spirit if you decide to run an internal hackathon.
And of course, there’s the prize at the end!
One of the most important reasons why you might want to run a hackathon! By the end of your fast-paced event, there’s a high chance the winning teams(s) will have created a minimum viable product. At the very least, you’ll have fresh new ideas and features you can take away and get to work on.
Facebook’s ‘Like’ button and Microsoft’s GroupMe messaging app, for instance, were both born from hackathons.
That’s not to say the motivation behind a hackathon is to get free prototypes out of talented techies. You’ll probably use your company’s infrastructure to encourage specific projects, but it’s important to give all participants the creative freedom to build out their own idea.
The business appeals of running a hackathon are plenty, but hackathons are widely used to help the greater good too. From battling homelessness to saving the planet, there are lots of initiatives working to solve both local and larger social issues.
Capsule, for example, ran a two-day virtual hackathon, Capsule Hack, to find solutions for the current global warming crisis. Rocket Software matches university students with professional engineers to solve local social issues like homelessness in the San Jose area.
Not only can you work to make your environment a better place, but you’re also nurturing young minds to make a real difference with solutions-based thinking. That’s a win-win.
Whether you’re in the business of software, have a problem to solve, or you want to test, hack, or build a new product, a hackathon will help you get there.
We live in an explosive digital era, and technical innovation isn’t just a nice to have anymore, it’s a must. Businesses that want to stay ahead of their competition are quickly learning that running a hackathon is one of the most effective ways to remain relevant, grow with innovation, and enjoy exposure to the brightest minds in the field.
If you’ve been musing with the idea of running your own hackathon, we would love to chat. We’ll get you sorted with a free demo of our platform so you can lead with your best foot forward.
And if you’re not quite ready to host your own event but you’re curious to know how it helps many other businesses just like yours, stay tuned. We’ve got lots of great stories and insights coming your way.
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