Hackathons 101

There’s a new catch word that’s making rounds for entrepreneurs, techies and businesses. Hackaton. What is it? The best way to understand a hackathon is through a chain of events…

Problem — sometimes the problem is one that is evident and sometimes the problem is something that people point out and needs to be addressed, regardless, the first component of a hackathon is the identification of a problem.

Idea Generation — You’ve identified the problem, now you need to brainstorm. This brainstorming is before you get in to groups because it is important that if you have identified the problem that you at some point have an idea or starting point on how you think its best solved. This does not mean you have the solution to solve the problem instead, you are looking and thinking of ways to tackle the issue.

Team Formation — So you’ve done your part, you identified the problem and you’ve generated some potential ideas — now, you have to build your dream team. This is where you think about the problem and how you want to address it and find out who can help you solve it. Maybe you need a statistician, an IT power brain or maybe mathematician, whatever or whomever it is you think you need to solve the problem you sign them up!

Work Work Work — Now that you have identified the problem and gathered some of the best to help you in your mission, now comes the fun part of a hackathon — the work. The problem solving and trail and errors of attempting to demystify the issue that was first addressed. What makes a hackathon different from anything out there is the fact that, this takes place in a short amount of time. Imagine taking the best and the brightest and then using apps and data to solve an issue — that is a hackathon. Hackathons create an environment where you have taken the specialists, the brains in topics ranging from technology and data and are now encouraging them to be innovative, to be creative and more importantly, to collaborate. Hackathons are about seeing what can come from a problem with a solution that could potentially be revolutionary!

Prototype — After days and hours spent problem solving, now comes the opportunity to taking the solution or solutions you have generated and laying it out to create a demo or prototype. This often means that ta demo or prototype application is created that will be tested to see if it will work in the masses in comparison to just the one or two people that may have tried it. What a prototype does is prepare you for the next and final stage of a hackathon — the presentation to investors, clients and potential backers. Prototypes aren’t always the best as applications can be costly and can require resources that not everyone has access to; however, creating a demo or a map of the potential theoretical benefits is a great first step.

Presenting the Solution — From start to finish, now comes the part where you share the findings of your hackathon session. This part of the hackathon process is helpful because it is an opportunity to share and demonstrate the flaws or problems you encountered. There is an adage where great minds think alike — and if you saw a flaw or discrepancy in a particular situation the chances are that there is also another great mind who saw the problem you did. When you present your findings along with how you got to that conclusion you are welcoming the opportunity for others to be part of the innovation, the creativity and the collaboration, which is truly what a hackathon is about.

At North of 41, you can be part of a community that believes in collaboration through networking. With North of 41, you will find like mind thinkers who see and think outside the box, but more importantly, you could be part of the next big vision in technology!

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.