Hackathons are quickly going mainstream — 3,400+ hackathons alone were hosted in 2016 around the world. Big companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google, IBM and Amazon have been hosting hackathons for years as well as sponsoring hundreds of others. Non-tech companies are also starting to jump into the game such as Ford Motors and Goldman Sachs, as industry leaders begin to realize the many benefits to be reaped from hosting hackathons. Here are five reasons to why you and your company should consider hosting a hackathon:
1. Building Community
For one, hackathons are a great way to bring people together in a competitive but fun environment. Internal company hackathons reinforce good work ethics and inspire employees to work hard, work fast and work tirelessly together. Hackathons are also a great way to connect with other businesses and services. Hackathons typically have well over a dozen sponsors which lead to potential future collaborations, business deals and more!
2. Promoting Innovation
Hackathons are a hub for innovation; the time constraints and techy environment stimulate creativity, problem-solving and healthy risk-taking behaviours that are essential for entrepreneurship and success in a fun, casual environment. Many innovative products and applications were first developed during hackathon events. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, told employees how inventions like the Facebook Like button, Timeline feature, Chat and Hyperlapse for Instagram were all developed through the company’s 50+ hackathons. Internal hackathons also encourage employees to express their creative ideas and demonstrate their potential to management, where typically they may not get the chance to do so otherwise.
3. Brand awareness
Why do you think RedBull is at so many adrenaline-infused sports events? Hosting a hackathon or even being involved as a sponsor is a great way to deliver brand awareness to a specific target audience. These events often attract young techies who are passionate about the industry — why else would they spend their weekend at these events? Therefore, they’re a fantastic target to market your brand towards. Hackathons are exciting, fun-filled events and it’s in every company’s best interest to associate their brand with these positive emotions. Sponsors will also commonly advertise the event on their social media pages which will consequently advertise your brand to their followers base.
4. Talent acquisition
As mentioned before, hackathons attract the most passionate individuals in the industry. This gives companies a great talent pool to recruit from. Recruiters can see first-hand how these attendants perform under pressure, their creative and technical abilities and, most importantly, how well they may fit in the company culture! Recruiting is always a mess — posting online results in a flood of unqualified resumes along with hours of interviewing candidates. Hackathons allow companies to meet their candidates and evaluate their skills first-hand while also promoting brand awareness and stimulating new ideas.
Hosting a hackathon provides an efficient and innovative way to advertise your brand, scout talented recruits as well as stimulate new, innovative ideas for your company. What sounds better? Paying several thousand dollars for a commercial that people ignore and skip through or spend the same amount of money on a hackathon to grab the attention of hundreds of individuals from your targeted audience. The same can be said with innovation. Spending thousands of dollars on research and development isn’t necessarily a bad thing but you could also develop new ideas through a hackathon like Facebook and find potential recruits at the same time! Whether you’re a well established giant corporation or a humble, growing startup, hackathons can provide great results for your company.