Discovering New Ideas with Hackathon
Hackathon is the consolidated term for “hack” and “marathon,” but far from the negative implications of hacking, hackathon is actually an event that gathers entrepreneurs, engineers, coders and programmers in one single venue to freely demonstrate possible venues for innovations. These events are also called hackdays, codefests or hackfests, offer excellent venues for both large companies and start-up businesses to come up with innovative and creative solutions that will significantly improve company performance.
Requirements and Rules of a Hackathon
The physical requirements for a hackathon are easy to achieve. Have your employees or outsourced talents bring their own laptop, get a stable internet connection and book a room that can accommodate all the attendees. You can curate food and drinks or choose a venue that’s near a dining establishment. For Hackathons that run more than a day or lasting over the weekend, providing sleeping mats will be helpful.
Next you need to understand the rules.
In a Hackathon, there are really no concrete rules, except for the start time and end time of working on the projects or prototypes. Hackathons are usually geared towards creating softwares or hardwares that businesses find useful and innovative. Facebook for example, ran a Hackathon that encouraged programmers to find opportunities for development and innovation. The “Like” button was one of Hackathon’s best products.
Depending on the organizer, programmers have the choice which system, framework, program or language to use. Furthermore, the organizer may or may dictate which area or aspect of the problem need innovation or improvement. Other than that, everything else is free-flowing.
Participants are also encouraged to pitch in their ideas. An entrepreneur, for example, can pitch a certain idea of a software that will greatly impact how he does business. He will attract programmers who would like to work on this idea and make it viable, and they will form a team that will work together until the idea comes to fruition.
Benefits to Start-up Businesses
Compared to the larger players, start-up businesses often find themselves disadvantaged when it comes to finances and manpower. Operating in limited budget while aiming to attract more customers could pose quite a challenge, but if you can engage your employees with an activity that explores their talents and skills, this could do good both for the company and your people.
Hackathons are cost-effective ways of generating new ideas.
The cost of holding a Hackathon is considerably lesser compared to giving your creative team an all-expense paid trip that will hopefully channel their creativity and unlock their ideas. Well, maybe not to the extent of giving free trips, but getting your creative team doing expensive prototypes for the project will prove more costly in the long run compared to holding a 24-hour gathering that implores the ideas of different individuals.
Hackathons are ideal places where you can generate ideas at lesser costs.
The quantity of ideas in itself is an advantage. Governments and non-profit organizations could also take advantage of the ideas generated in a Hackathon, such that of GovHack in Australia, Education Hack Day, National Hack the Government Day in the US or the Hackaton eGov Wallonia organized in October 2013.
People are surprisingly eager to give up their weekend to attend a Hackathon.
Several programmers and coders find Hackathons the perfect venue to unleash their ideas, thus it’s not surprising why a number of attendees are willing to give up their weekend just to attend the event. Some organizers give out rewards and prices for the best demos and prototypes. And for some, merely accomplishing their projects and being recognized for their work is enough.
Hackathons explore the potential of your employees or stakeholders which your organisation will find useful. It’s surprising how talented people can come up with the most ingenious concepts in a limited time-frame, benefitting your organisation, your network, your employees and of course the amazing developers working on your challenge.