Why are hackathons important? Hint: it’s got little to do with software

Hackathons have become a welcome addition to the sometimes cold world of programming. In case you’re new to the term, a hackathon is a blend of the words ‘hack’ and ‘marathon’. Simply put, a hackathon is a competitive event in which different IT professionals form teams to develop a solution for a specific problem, usually lasting between a day and a week. While a handful of successful startups originated in hackathons, the true value of these events lies beyond product development.

Gems of the coding world

Hackathons offer many things besides the opportunity of creating the rare star-product in record time. Above everything else, hackathons are social events that bring people together: they provide a space for bonding and fun for a crowd that more often than not sees itself immersed into bleak, repetitive tasks. In hackathons, the pressure is auto-imposed, which tends to act as a motivational factor: for participants, there is no risk of failing beyond the limits set by the organizers, and while tight deadlines are part of the game, cut-throat environments are exceptional. There will be no angry bosses at the end of it, and there is no risk of getting fired or yelled at for participants.

On top of this, there are perks for companies: it wouldn’t be wrong to label hackathons as a recruiter’s paradise: having the chance to observe developers doing their best against the ticking clock is not something that happens every day. All things considered, hackathon organization should be present in every software company’s HR agenda: the events infuse motivation, help develop stronger multi-level staff bonds and serve to evaluate the pool of professionals for any given IT sub-area.  

Sponsoring a hackathon: yay or nay?

As every other corporate decision, sponsoring a hackathon must undergo careful consideration. Doing so because ‘it will make us look cool’ is not nearly a good enough reason to do it. A list of the most important questions before deciding to sponsor a hackathon includes:

  • Are there any direct connections between the company and the goal of the event?
  • Will the event benefit my company in any way, even if in an intangible one?
  • Is it economically viable?
  • Are there any hidden risks to consider?

And finally,

  • Which hackathon is right for my company?

As it happens, hackathons can vary a lot, ranging from small, low-key events to ultra-competitive, heavily prized ones. It’s shouldn’t be hard to pick the right one, but nevertheless, a bit of attention is required. On a more personal note, our favorite upcoming events are:

You can check out more options here, or else you can just ask us: we’d be happy to help you pick the best event to suit your needs. To conclude, have you ever attended a hackathon that’s worth the mention? We’d love to hear your experience about it!