If you pay attention to even a small amount of tech news, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the term “hackathon” being thrown around. And it’s for good reason. Hackathons, both internal and for customers, drive innovation and push the boundaries of what is possible within a product.
A hackathon is usually a 24-48 hour event where eager developers, as well as professionals from other backgrounds, come together to find and develop solutions to real-life problems. The outcome of hours upon hours of hacking? Well, anything your heart desires and your brain knows how to code!
At Sisense, we’ve been having internal hackathons for two years now. Our employees, across offices and departments, form teams and spend 24-hours hacking away at Sisense to stretch our software beyond their wildest dreams. At the end, each team pitches their idea to the entire company and a winner is voted on and crowned.
The fruits of our internal hackathons is evident in our product today. The Sisense Chatbot, for example, came straight out of a hackathon and is now an integral part of our Sisense Everywhere initiative. Pretty awesome, right?
So, why should you participate in a hackathon? Although hackathons have endless benefits, here are the six major ways you’re probably missing opportunities to grow if you have yet to join one:
1. Build relationships –
Hackathons are the perfect place to meet like-minded peers and foster relationships while engaging in something all participants are genuinely interested in. What’s a better way to find a solution to a problem you’ve been working on than in a brainstorming session with a few peers? Participating in a hackathon can help you find that missing part of your project structure in order to bring your idea to life.
2. Learn new skills –
Every hackathon is a treasure trove of knowledge. Whether it’s the developer toolkit of the technology you are working with, internal experts or mentors that help you along the way, or fellow participants that brainstorm with you on the best way to find a solution, you’re bound to leave with more skills than you came with.
3. Broaden your industry expertise –
A hackathon is usually framed around a real-life problem in a specific industry or cause. For example, by participating in a hackathon in a BI world, you can learn about different use cases and business needs, how people achieve certain goals, and what they struggle with.
4. Exercise your talents –
Are you creative? Bring your craziest ideas. Can you do something faster than others? This is the perfect place to put your speed to the test. No matter what your strong suit, exercising it under the time constraints and pressure of a hackathon is a sure fire way to improve and show off a little bit.
5. Work on a passion project –
Most of us have fantasies of how to perfect or extend the functionality of the tools we use every day. The problem is, who has the time to dedicate to seeing those dreams become a reality? A hackathon is a perfect place to put everything else aside and commit a full 24-48 hours to doing just that!
6. Sense of accomplishment –
You don’t have to build a perfectly functioning solution in a 24-48 hour hackathon. It’s nearly impossible and that’s okay! What you will build is the foundation of an idea that, chances are, no one has built before. It’s an opportunity to jump-start something, ignite imagination, and inspire others.