What is a hackathon? Learn what’s truly behind this buzzword.
In the vibrant and dynamic world of technology and innovation, no other event stands out as much as a ‘hackathon’. It’s proven to be a cauldron of creativity and collaboration and created some of the best technology the world has ever seen. In a single glance, this word may mean something different to you depending on who you are. Based on our experience running over 10,000 global hackathons, we’re going to list out exactly what it means.
For those familiar, this word is often tossed around at work, in tech circles, during fund raising and often those scratching their brains aiming to find results using hackathon as an activity. AngelHack shares more in this article.
For those unfamiliar, read on as we take you deeper into the world of hackathons.
What’s in the word ‘hackathon’?
A portmanteau of “hack” and “marathon,” a hackathon is an intensive event that brings together brilliant problem-solving experts together to find innovative, often unconventional solutions to modern business scenarios. Participants intensively collaborate and co-create solutions over a designated period (often 24-48 hours). This intensive activity moves through stages to conceptualize, design, and create a functional prototype of an application, system, or solution. The aim? Push the boundaries of possibility. We aren’t surprised when we find our hackathon event managers often end up having great small talk about the next big tech.
What does it have to do with Innovation?
Hackathons by design, provide a space where free thinking is encouraged, and creative solutions emerge. When you bring together a diversity of experts in such an environment to collaborate — a coder, a marketer, a graphic designer, and an industry expert — their unique perspectives create solutions. You most likely have heard or use Twitter – did you know that the idea was born in a hackathon?
Something of this sort is simply hard to achieve within the siloed confines of a corporate environment. A rapidly changing world forces companies, institutions, and even governments to organize hackathons in order to adapt and innovate to be competitive.
Beyond Coding: Skills and Personal Growth for Everyone
A misconception about hackathons is that they’re only for the tech-savvy elite. Technical skills are essential and they’re just one of the pieces in the grand puzzle. All viable business activities require communication, teamwork, time management, and sales skills and they apply to hackathons as well. A well-functioning hackathon team often resembles a startup, with members taking up key roles of developers, designers, and project managers.
The high-pressure environment of a hackathon provides an unparalleled personal growth opportunity that participants may not see during their regular jobs. This aspect of hackathon where one thinks on their feet, adapts to feedback, and perseveres through technical and conceptual challenges creates another reason for companies to adopt hackathon as a business activity.
Hackathons Inspire Real-World Change
hackathons today are themed not just around coding solutions, they are often created around societal challenges — from climate change to health crises. These events are powerful platforms to address issues. For instance, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous hackathons were organized globally, aiming to find tech solutions for challenges related to healthcare, logistics, and remote work for a pandemic-afflicted world.
Hackathons Offer Great Networking Opportunities
You may have a tech product, use one, or just want to sense a hackathon or a CMO trying to make sense of it all. A hackathon is a massive pool of potential connections with participants, like-minded peers, potential mentors, recruiters, and industry leaders. Participants love it as they meet like-minded peers, and gain exposure and recognition among industry leaders, mentors, and recruiters. Talent scouts love it as they know that these events are likely where you might find the next big innovator.
For companies, it’s a golden opportunity to source new ideas and solutions to challenges they’ve been facing, and in some cases, even discover startups worth investing in. Imagine finding developers who can help spark the new big thing for you. If you are looking to attend one, you may head over to https://hacker.dev/ and find one that piques your interest.
Hackathons helps companies market their product to developers.
Where there are users, there are sellers. When you have brilliant developers solving complex issues, you have the opportunity to have your products get used to creating effective and innovative use cases. C-Suites mandated with marketing, usage, or retention of their tech products look for hackathon events in order to engage the brilliant diversity that a well-done event brings and that’s gotten us to deliver over 10,000 hackathons globally.
The best answer to the “What is a hackathon” question?
A hackathon a journey of innovation, collaboration, and problem-solving that transforms into real-world solutions. It’s where ideas are born, skills are honed, connections are made, and solutions emerge that have the potential to change the world.
The continuous evolution of the digital landscape will continue to change the nature and significance of hackathons, and they will remain an applicable tool in the future. They are a testament to the ability of humans to come together, think outside the box, and push boundaries – one hack at a time. You can find some great examples in our case study library.
Next time you hear hackathon, don’t picture a room filled with coders, but a dynamic space brimming with creativity, potential, and the promise of innovation. Whether you’re a tech enthusiast, a business leader, or someone curious about the future of innovation, consider participating in or organizing a hackathon. The experience just might surprise you.