Updated on by Hayley Brown
We hosted an internal company-wide hackathon. We set a hackathon theme, date, and location. Then we developed some internal marketing to notify employees and get them excited about hackathon participation. We placed employees in random teams and they were typically with others from departments they don’t often get to work with. When the day came around the teams split up and started on their task, which was to find innovative ways to develop our product, an embedded iPaaS further.
So, why did we decide to host an internal hackathon? I’ll explain.
Five Advantages of Hosting your own Hackathon
Hosting your own hackathon can bring several benefits to participants, organisers, and the overall company culture.
Here are five advantages of hosting an internal hackathon:
Fostering Innovation: Hackathons provide a unique platform for participants to collaborate, brainstorm, and unleash their creativity. By hosting a hackathon, you create an environment that encourages innovative thinking and problem-solving. Participants have the freedom to explore new ideas, experiment with cutting-edge technologies, and develop groundbreaking solutions. This fosters an atmosphere of innovation and can lead to the creation of novel projects, products, or services.
Building a Cross-Functional Collaboration: An internal hackathon brings together different teams of developers, designers and sales from various backgrounds, skill levels, and expertise. Hosting your own hackathon allows you to establish and nurture a company culture of cross-functional collaboration. This encourages further collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and networking. Employees can connect with others they wouldn’t usually work with and learn from each other’s experiences. You can continue to grow and strengthen this company culture by hosting regular internal hackathons.
Promoting Problem-Solving and Innovative Solutions: Hackathons are known for their collaborative nature. They provide a platform for participants to work in teams, share ideas, and solve complex problems together. By hosting an internal hackathon, you encourage collaboration among employees, fostering a culture of teamwork and cooperation. This can lead to the formation of multidisciplinary teams with diverse perspectives, enhancing the quality of the solutions developed. Collaboration also promotes the exchange of skills, knowledge, and best practices among participants.
Showcasing Talent: Hosting your own hackathon allows you to provide a platform for employees to showcase their skills, talents, and creativity. Hackathons often include project presentations or demos, where participants can present their solutions to a panel of judges or the entire organisation. This gives participants an opportunity to gain recognition for their work and receive feedback. By highlighting and celebrating talent, you contribute to the growth and development of individuals in your organisation.
Drive Innovation to Solve Product Problems: Hackathons can be organised around specific themes or problem statements. By hosting your own hackathon, you can focus on addressing specific challenges within your organisation, product or service. This allows participants to apply their skills and knowledge to solve practical problems, potentially making a meaningful impact. The solutions developed during the hackathon can offer fresh perspectives, novel approaches, and tangible outcomes that may be further refined and implemented beyond the event.
Overall, hosting your own hackathon can stimulate innovation, build company culture, encourage collaboration, showcase talent, and contribute to problem-solving efforts. It is an excellent way to bring teams together, inspire creativity, and drive positive change within your organisation’s ecosystem.
Why are internal hackathons important for remote companies?
Internal hackathons are important for remote companies because they can build a connected atmosphere between co-workers. This can create a strong company culture and effective cross-functional collaboration.
Benefits of cross-functional collaboration:
- Increases employee engagement such as improved in-person communication and reduced feelings of isolation.
- Streamline work processes and help develop viable solutions to business challenges.
- Defines roles and goals which can improve the retention of employees when skills and roles are recognised.
- Boosts innovation and allows employees’ skills to emerge.
- Improves alignment between departments and increases inclusivity and relationship building between teams.
- Increases team collaboration and atmosphere in a working environment.
Running a hackathon is therefore important because it can help shape and even shift a company’s culture to a more inclusive and innovative workplace.
How do you organise an internal hackathon?
Hosting a hackathon involves careful planning and coordination to ensure a successful and engaging event.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to organise a hackathon:
Define the Purpose and Goals: Determine the purpose of your hackathon and identify the specific goals you want to achieve. Are you aiming to foster innovation, solve a particular problem, or build a collaborative company culture? Clarifying your objectives will guide the planning process.
Formulate a Clear Hackathon Concept: Define the format, duration, and theme of your hackathon. Consider whether it will be an in-person event, virtual, or a combination of both. Choose a theme that aligns with your objectives and resonates with employees. You can also decide on any specific challenges, technologies, or platforms to focus on.
Assemble a Team: Build a team of organizers and volunteers to assist in planning and executing the hackathon. Assign responsibilities such as logistics, marketing, sponsorship, participant registration, technical support, and judging. Ensure effective communication channels are established within the team.
Set a Date, Time, and Venue: Determine the date and time for your hackathon, considering factors such as the availability of participants, potential conflicts with other events, and the duration required to achieve the goals. Choose a suitable venue that can accommodate participants comfortably and provide the necessary infrastructure, including internet access and power supply. If hosting a virtual hackathon, select a reliable online platform for hosting the event.
Develop a Budget: Create a budget that includes expenses such as venue rental, equipment, food and beverages, marketing materials, prizes, and any other necessary resources. Seek sponsorship or partnership opportunities to help cover the costs and enhance the hackathon experience.
Arrange Mentors and Experts: Identify team members who can be either mentors or judges that can provide guidance and feedback to employees during the hackathon.
Plan the Schedule and Activities: Develop a detailed schedule that includes opening and closing ceremonies, team formation sessions, brainstorming activities, coding time, mentorship sessions, project presentations, and judging criteria. Allow sufficient time for participants to work on their projects and encourage breaks.
Prepare Resources and Logistics: Ensure you have the necessary resources, such as workstations, development tools, APIs, sample datasets, and any additional hardware or software required for the hackathon. Arrange for meals, snacks, and refreshments to keep participants energized throughout the event. Coordinate logistics such as seating arrangements, signage, AV equipment, and transportation, if applicable.
Promote the Hackathon: Implement a comprehensive internal marketing strategy to raise awareness and attract employees. Create visually appealing graphics, videos, and promotional materials to generate interest and highlight the benefits of participating.
Conduct the Hackathon: On the day of the hackathon, ensure all logistical arrangements are in.
What did members of the Cyclr team think of the hackathon?
“Hackathons allow us to share new ideas and develop solutions that aren’t necessarily related to our roadmap. They’ve helped us develop new features for our customers, as well as ways to improve our internal processes. Also, by working in small sub-teams they bring together team members that may not have much experience working together, so they’re great for getting people to know each other better.”
Daniel Twigg, Senior Product Marketing Manager
“The day was really helpful in thinking about how we could make everyones lives easier, it also gave me the ability to see what other team’s priorities are. Not to mention the fact I got to meet some people face to face who I don’t directly work with day to day.”
Travis King, Sales and Business Development Manager
“The Hackathon allowed Cyclr employees to bring their ideas regarding customer centricity to the attention of the wider team, then discuss and refine them. It brought together members of different teams, and this allowed us to discuss pain points that might have otherwise been missed, and then develop ideas for improvements. It was a great experience, and furthered our goals of customer centricity.”
Jack Taylor, Solutions Architect