AngelHack Blog - Startups, Innovation, Accelerators & more

What Is A Hackathon? And Why Should My Company Care?

May 12, 2016 12:49:46 PM / by Troy Petrunoff

To quote Wikipedia, every college student’s savior, “A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development and hardware development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects.

Hackathons have been experiencing a HUGE boom in the past few years, founded in 2011 we’ve done our best to lead the forefront of the movement! So if you’re feeling out of the loop, let us break down the basics and why companies are jumping aboard the hackathon wagon.

Insane innovation in a short amount of time

“By tapping into APIs and SDKs from  technology and content companies, as well as publicly available APIs, participants of all skill areas can team up to cultivate new ways of solving old problems — brainstorming over a few days to build new friendships and networks, and most importantly, design new products and services.” - Hackitarians

Seriously. A hackathon is typically during the span of one weekend. Our events are usually a solid 24 hours hacking time, plus the opening and closing ceremonies with sponsor talks, food, happy hour, and more stuff to make the event more than just work.

In a corporate company, it takes a LONG time to move a new and fresh idea forward. And a corporate environment is not typically one that fosters rapid-prototyping innovative ideas. But by throwing a hackathon, ideas come quickly and from all different types of people with unique ideas.

That’s why we’ve had companies like MasterCard, Barclay’s, AB-In-Bev, Hasbro’s, NFL, and much more come to us to help them with a hackathon.

Hackathons have lots of uses for companies

Instant feedback on APIs and other tech? Oh you bet! If you’re a hackathon sponsor or hosting a hackathon centered around your shiny new APIs or wearable, you will hear if it works and especially if it doesn’t work. Blunty, and too your face. But hey, hackathon attendees come up with solutions real quick, so you’re surrounded by the right people.

Recruiting? Yes, absolutely. Typically recruiting is not the main goal, but if the company’s developer evangelist or rep notices and makes a connection with a particularly good developer at the event, that’s a definite step in the door. And now there are companies like Codeity, which we recently acquired, that can match attendees looking for jobs with the RIGHT potential employer.

Can we do a hackathon internally? Definitely. Hackathons are typically open to the public. But many companies are now running internal ones so that employees can get a bit of a break from their day to day work, and work together with coworkers in a FUN way that also may unearth some major groundbreaking ideas for the company.

We’ve helped out with a number of internal hackathons for a wide range of companies ;)

Hackathons are fun

We could go way more in depth about hackathons, (duh, it is what we do), but here’s the bottom line. They’re fun, innovative, and useful.

They’re a new way for your employees to bond and improve their teamwork, generate unique ideas, and meet potential employees/employers. And they’re also just a fun way for developers, designers and entrepreneurs to come together and enjoy their weekend, and maybe win some epic prizes while they’re at it.

Troy Petrunoff

Written by Troy Petrunoff