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Four ideas for a successful in-house hackathon

Ivana Markovic
May 06, 2019 ∙ 3 mins
A member of the competition during our code in the dark event

“We eat, sleep, and breathe technology”:

At Osedea, this is one of our core values , and it informs virtually everything we do on a daily basis. Since Osedea’s early days, we’ve taken a part in a lot of Hackathons in Montréal and abroad, and we found those experiences extremely beneficial. We love Hackathons so much that we regularly host internal Hackathons, where a small team works on a cool project that is beneficial for both the team and our software development company. Here is our take on why and how to host your in-house Hackathon.

Why hold your own Hackathon?

There are a few reasons why you might want to try an in-house Hackathon:

  • To foster team spirit, and elevate relationships between team members.
  • To inspire innovation and better communication.
  • To show team members what they’re capable of, introduce them to new technologies, and help them to get (even) better at what they do.

We think you’ll be amazed at how your company culture gets a boost when you create an opportunity for employees to test their limits, and impress themselves with what they’re able to create in the short period of time allotted for a Hackathon. And if you give participants the mandate of building a solution that’s going to be useful to your company overall, you might just end up with a finished product that makes everybody’s lives easier (this is what we experienced when our Hackathon resulted in the creation of our new, company-wide dashboard).

glowing glass code in the dark event

Tips and tricks for a successful Hackathon

No idea is too “out there”

As we prepared for our recent Hackathon, we knew we wanted to hit the ground running with an idea that everybody would be excited to watch come to fruition during the 48 hours of madness that would ensue. So, to gather the maximum number of possible project ideas ahead of time, we urged our participants to start thinking outside of the box and freely sharing their zany ideas from the moment we knew we were having a Hackathon.

Proper preparation helps it all go smoothly

There may only have been five people “in the trenches” of our Hackathon, but our entire office was committed to its success. We set up a dedicated Hackathon support team who handled all the organizational elements, ensuring that everything was in place for a smooth event rollout. They reserved the work spaces required, ordered food to keep our “hackers” fuelled, and so much more.

Communication is everything

At Osedea, we’re kind of obsessed with quality communication, so keeping our entire team up to date on the progress being made during the Hackathon was incredibly important to us. We also asked Hackathon participants to share progress reports during the Lunch & Learn we had during the week of the Hackathon.

Don’t stop when the Hackathon is over

When all is said and done, it can be tempting to sit back, admire the solution you’ve come up with, and call it a day. But if you want to get as much benefit as possible out of a Hackathon, it’s important to continue to refine the solution that you’ve conjured up. Your team probably created a Minimum Viable Product during your Hackathon, so they must have already thought of possible improvements or next steps. Keep the ball rolling with these to build on the momentum you generated by deciding to do a Hackathon in the first place.

Promote, promote, promote

Your team invested a lot of time and effort in your Hackathon, and you got a result you’re proud of. Now it’s time to share your experience outside of your company! We did this in two major ways: first, we shared everything with our community in real time using stories and posts on Instagram, and second, we wrote this blog post that you’re reading right now. Think of all the ways you can to get the word out about what you accomplished, because a successful Hackathon is something to be proud of — and it just might be the thing that lands you your next big client!

programers in action during the Code in the dark event