We all think of hackathons as a bustling experience where hackers and programmers unite, for they give up their weekend plans to indulge in a 54 hour non-stop coding experience.
Pizza crusts, red bull cans all over the place, along with endless tapping noises on keyboards, are the “cliché” images that often come to mind, when we think of hackathon.
(one of the famous hackathon scenes from “The Social Network” movie)
But what is truly a Hackathon ?
A hackathon is an event where engineers, programmers, designers, marketers, and animators work collaboratively over a course of several days to create or innovate something new.
Due to the increasing technology influence and the highly competitive industry, it has become more difficult to find the best tech talent for companies. They are more likely to work for big tech companies; which leaves other industries behind in technological advancement. A hackathon gives you the opportunity to meet and hire top tech talent that best suits your company needs.
This raises another misconception about hackathons is that it only serves tech companies, which is not true. In fact, the whole practice associated with hackathons can be useful to any industry looking for innovation in their system (ex: Marketing ideas, HR solutions, Finance services, etc). The real magic of a hackathon lies in the creative freedom. Hackathons bring public participants (and your employees too) to come work together and innovate with new ideas.
Also, there are other advantages to organizing or simply attending hackathons. It allows you to connect to a high volume of new users for your business (brand awareness), capture outstanding ideas, increase the morale of your employees (team values, productivity) and discover innovative new products.
Here are the 4 top reasons :
1. Attract & Hire The Best Minds — bypass traditional recruitment processes
Hackathons can help you recruit quality and creative talent. Think about it: people gather together for an entire weekend to passionately deliver for projects set up for them, derive results within a short amount of time (between 1 or 3 days); while, competing with other teams to present the best innovative idea in the end.
Self-motivation ? Checked ✓
High quality skills ? Checked ✓
Top productivity ? Checked ✓
Creative thinking ? Checked ✓
From the top participants who stand out from the crowd are the ones you will consider connecting with & offering a job.
Offering a reasonable prize to make the whole process more challenging and exciting is what attracts the participants to hackathons. (ex : “Create an Artificial Intelligence Product To Revolutionize Our Everyday Lives” or “Build Tomorrow’s Disruptive Ecommerce App”). Find sponsors that benefits the companies, and also allows participants to connect with them. Companies such as, Google, Facebook, IBM, etc are known to sponsor numerous hackathons each year, worldwide.
2. Hackathons bring employees together and increase morale.
Sometimes the mundane routine of working on the same product, writing codes and staying with the same department can reduce your employees’ motivation and creativity at work. Participating at a Hackathon will boost their creativity, they gain insight into other professional fields (developers, marketers, designers), and are highly motivated to create and innovate a new product or service idea that can truly revolutionize your industry.
It is an unconventional way of team building and a great alternative to the usual Friday-night drinks and dinner routine. Hackathons can make your employeers work together for a great purpose and reinforce the right values.
3. Brand Awareness- more engaging than your traditional advertising methods
Associating your brand with a hackathon that can change the public’s perception of your brand and help acquire developer mindshare.
Hosting a hackathon or getting involved as a sponsor is an efficient way to deliver more awareness about your company and increase brand exposure in your industry.
People will associate your brand with innovation, community involvement, and few other factors that helps to boost your company image. Also keep in mind the traditional and social media coverage your company will gain through this event.
4. Find new innovative ideas — and even products.
Hackathons are an innovative proving ground for new ideas.
The most impressive part of hackathons is at the end of the event when participants show off their MPV (prototype) & presentation. This is when you finally see each team’s final result after working continuously for long hours. At this moment the judges will evaluate the projects and select the winners.
At Hackathons each participant wants to deliver an innovative and revolutionary product or service. And this is why you can easily find new ideas at hackathons, from which some can be very useful for your business. You can even make a deal with your favorite team to buy their product or hire them to build it entirely for you.
Setting up an internal hackathon for your company can also drive great results to reinvigorate your company’s innovation culture and capabilities.
So how could you set up your first hackathon ?
- Sponsor a hackathon. Many hackathons are free to participants, so people can just sign up. But most events require you to become a sponsor if you want to offer a prize and put your product or API in front of participants. Seek out hackathons at your city to sponsor, keeping in mind that they reach your target audience.
- Make your own Hackathon and gain all the benefits from it. It can either be an internal hackathon dedicated to your employees or a public hackathon to attract new people and discover fresh ideas. Creating your own hackathon is possible, but having a good network and resources is highly suggested, to be sure of hosting an excellent quality experience for attendees.
At North of 41 we have an excellent track record of organizing hackathons with great partners such as IBM, Toronto Stock Exchange, Homeland Security Canada & State Department.
Feel free to contact us if you want to set up your own Hackathon, and we will provide you all the necessary ressources, location & partners to make your dream possible. www.northof41.org or call us at 1–800–622–5254