Hackathons for Entrepreneurs?

Hackathons have evolved over the years to become a platform where teams can display their product and the ability to deliver in a short time and mostly under immense pressure. Though this activity has giving rise to the creation of many startups that have grown into successful businesses which is but a single of its many benefits.

Lessons or experiences learned from participating in hackathons can vary from people to people but I share my experience from participating in the SRS fintech hackathon that focused on a credit scoring system for the unbanked. Where the unbank are people with little or average financial activities having little of no financial record footprint.

Besides the complexity of the solution that was to be built, there were other key takeaways I which I am about to discuss.

Exposure

hackathon can be a good source of inspiration for new ideas and innovation. Sometimes the tech industry could be moving faster than we know without a platform so see what other people are doing. However, a hackathon provides that. Hackathons can serve as a window to meet people who are working on similar projects or people with more experience; this can bring in a fresh perspective on a particular idea or an opportunity to find answers to pending problems. It can also unveil creativity being an effective means of stretching the most devoted people to the extreme considering the race against the short time involved and the consciousness of competing against other participants. Nevertheless, most of all the ability to share and learn is a big win.

Opportunities and growth

Depending on the size and the reach of a particular hackathon, it is an opportunity for publicity and displaying of product for potential investments plus the psychological impact might just be a reinvigoration for growth, renewed aspirations for individuals and teams alike. Given the right circumstance and opportunity, a hackathon can be a lens with a broad view that could create quite a significant impact.

Purpose

There various reasons why people participate in hackathons and a few of them are; finance, publicity, experience etc. and there’s no playbook that helps to choose which cause is most noble but what matters is if the purpose is genuine to those concerned because like every other cause it is most important the benefit are well calculated. So that an outcome such as not gaining price and recognition can still be taken in, good faith considering other benefits that aren’t quantifiable. Successful teams can be created through a hackathon. Seeing how the SRS hackathon helped synergized a newly formed team of highly motivated software developers with a keen eye for entrepreneurship, which I was part of. It only goes on to validate the fact that when a cause is true something as trivial as a hackathon can be a good mechanism to put a team dynamic to the test.

On the other hand, it is a healthy corporate social responsibility with positive impact to the society, which should be further geared to help encourage young entrepreneurs and innovation for economic impact.

Cons and keeping the balance

Hackathon can be a bit of a distraction sometimes to entrepreneurs. It is only fair to highlight that too. Some of them include the loss of time and effort for some individual or team who might feel like they could have invested the time and resources to something else. Most bodies or organization that host hackathon usually would have and angle to it in terms of the impact it is targeted at, unfortunately not all are quite impactful based on the theme of the competition and what it sets out to achieve. Taking this into consideration should stir up hackathon participant to do their research in verifying if a particular hackathon suits their purpose so that resources don’t go to waste.

Execution

The novelty of an idea is not just enough but the execution is just as important as the idea because a weak execution is just another phrase for poor execution. The skill required to execute tasks properly is not just something that can be achieved instantaneously because it takes time and effort to be able to deliver high quality in a short period and there’s nothing wrong in taking a few page from the competition especially if it improves upon an existing pattern. Also, it is a good learning ground to measure efficiency effectiveness and timeliness for teams in delivering products and services.

Irrespective of the various opinions that might exist regarding hackathons, it would only turn out to be what individuals or teams make out of it. That is to say, it’s not necessarily a do or die affair but it could just be the next challenge that could unlock the hidden gem.