Whether you’re a large, established business, or just starting up, there’s much to gain from a hackathon. For us, a hackathon is a designated week – dubbed “hackweek” – when employees split into teams and innovate on their own. Then the projects, usually in various states of completion, are pitched to the executives and possibly implemented.
This process gets employees involved in other areas of the company that they are not exposed to on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, it gives employees the opportunity to become intrapreneurs – entrepreneurs that innovate from within a business. Though they originated within the tech world, hackathons have been gaining popularity and spreading, quite possibly because tech has infiltrated virtually every industry.
Part of the culture of the hackathon is that they’re 24/7 for as long as they last. Our developers have been known to nap in their chairs and go through cases of energy drinks. Food is also trucked in during the day to keep them sustained. Once there was even a wild animal show. The results are worth it.
Companies have been born from hackathons, actually quite frequently. Here in LA, there’s a hackathon nearly every week, generally focused around a specific theme (pets, parking, sports, crm, etc.). However, companies are wise to tap into the ingenuity of their employees; brilliant people locked into the tight schedules of work may not have the time to implement improvements, though they can probably point out inefficiencies. A hackathon puts the ball in their court.
We like to think that our culture of keeping employees challenged is what drives such amazing results!
Have you participated in or instigated hackathons? Share your thoughts in the comments!