As defined by Wikipedia, a hackathon is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including subject-matter-experts, collaborate intensively on software projects. Hackathons have been all the craze lately and several tech companies use them as an opportunity to further develop their projects.
Blockchain hackathons have also been increasing exponentially since 2017 with ridiculously high valued prices being quoted and great hiring opportunities being promised to such participants. The hackathon landscape has evolved from being limited to traditional, larger tech companies like Facebook, Google, as well as organizations like Major League Hacking hosting large-scale seasonal hackathons to just about any organization hosting their own versions of small-scale hackathons these days. However, what is it that motivates such companies to spend several thousands of dollars on hosting such hackathons which includes often expected characteristics like free swag, food, accomodation, cash prizes, gift prizes, popular venues, and prospective employment opportunities. This article will discuss and summarize some of the key benefits that companies, especially those based in the blockchain ecosystem, stand to gain by hosting such hackathons.
Creating Long Lasting Communities
A lot of innovative companies organize major hackathons because they understand its importance in creating a self-sustaining, positive ecosystem around them. As a smart marketing tool, hackathons can also help in increasing the company’s external network, especially among developers, who tend to be actively involved in feedback and content development. Moreover, the type of people who choose to engage and participate in hackathons tend to be intellectually smart and capable individuals who would remain in touch with the company’s external relations team for any future occasions provided the event was memorable. Moreover, the onset of innovative prizes like social media contests embedded within the traditional hackathon landscape incentivizes this community creation aspect further.
As mentioned in the previous advantage related to community creation and non-explicit marketing, hosting such hackathons results in increasing the company’s products and values out to the developer’s community, thus resulting in an indirect form of corporate branding. Moreover, developers and hackathon participants tend to be actively involved in social media as well as the customer landscape and hence, usually prove to be great messengers of the brand itself outside of such hackathons.
Less Expensive Skilled Labor
Another huge incentive for companies or startups seeking to launch new products to host or sponsor such hackathons is because of the prospect of solving specific tasks or difficulties being faced by the company’s technical team by such hackathon participants. For instance, suppose that a blockchain startup wants to diversify and launch a new product within their existing product line. However, they hit a roadblock when their code proves to be buggy and solving it would result in a tremendous loss of numerous man-hours as well as hours of paid compensation. By listing this task as one of the problem scenarios within the hackathon, this specific blockchain company would be able to not only possibly solve it, but also offer a prize that would be more economical in contrast with their original estimated expense. Hence, blockchain companies and other firms in general tend to gain a lot of problem solving expertise from such hackathons which also have the added benefit of being financially economical.
Prospective HR Expansion
As a continuation of the previous point regarding the availability of skilled labor, many companies organizing such hackathons usually also tend to utilize them as an opportunity for recruiting new hires based on their performance and alignment to company values. Apart from being financially cost-effective, such hackathons also tend to make it easier for such companies to find like-minded talent within a common roof. Moreover, many participants of such hackathons tend to be those seeking new employment opportunities anyways so it is a win-win situation for every party involved.
Many startups and companies that organize such hackathons also seek to test newer sections of their company or product with the developers that participate before proceeding with them internally. Such hackathons prove to be the ideal venue for such idea testing and innovation because of the inherent diversity and teamwork that they bring forward. For example, a blockchain company that is considering an expansion of their product towards hardware wallets might not have the financial and human resources to pursue further research and development (R&D) internally. However, allowing such hackathon participants to use the blockchain company’s existing infrastructure and experiment with such hardware wallet integrations may lead to surprising breakthroughs and innovative discoveries. Moreover, framing specific sponsor prizes as sub-categories can prove to be extremely beneficial for critically problem solving such issues and gaining diverse insights from multiple individuals and teams into how best to solve them.
Boosting Employee Morale
The above points referred mostly to external hackathons. However, inward-facing employee hackathons have also proven to be extremely beneficial in boosting employee morale along with a few other advantages. They may prove to inculcate a refreshing change of attitudes within the employees and also take their mind of existing corporate stress. Moreover, most hackathons encourage holistic teamwork and hence, hackathons can be proactively used as a tool for nurturing the creation of positive team dynamics. Finally, such internal hackathons can also help a company to re-establish their core inner values amongst their employees if they find it diminishing and this can be done in a fun, easy-going environment in contrast to the usually uneventful list of events going through an employee’s yearly calendar.
Hence, as seen clearly through the aforementioned points and statements, companies stand to gain a lot of advantages by organizing or sponsoring such hackathons. More blockchain companies are beginning to embrace this trend for good reasons and are showing hugely positive results of outcomes. So, if you’re in a company that is seemingly running out of steam, why not host a hackathon and see the interest and diversity of ideas pour in?