There are roughly 1000+ hackathons conducted every year. Almost half of them are conducted by private companies, roughly a third of all hackathons are conducted by universities and colleges.
Hackathons are typically events in which programmers, graphic designers and the like get together to collaborate on a project which serves a purpose and solves a problem which is usually given to them. They can be internal: the employees of the company take part in the hackathons, or external: anyone can take part in these hackathons. Having to sit and work hard for a period of a few hours to a few days with the same group of people with the constant pressure of meeting deadlines, it’s not easy for everyone but this process really helps to filter out the best of the best. Sure, hackathons can be really hectic but there’s a reward waiting for the best few at the end.
Why are tech companies conducting external hackathons?
Conducting external hackathons serves multiple purposes for a company:
Raising Brand Awareness
Hackathons can change the perception of the public towards the brand. People will associate the company with innovation and community involvement. This is always desirable for companies.
Finding new and innovative ideas or products
At a hackathon, each team tries to come up with an innovative product or service. This usually depends on the problem selected by the team. So, at a hackathon, a company can find multiple solutions to multiple problems. Regularly conducting or sponsoring hackathons creates a sustainable source of innovation.
Hackathons provide companies with a group of people from the developer community who could help the company through word of mouth marketing. This is a simple and cost effective way of marketing. The contestants could help companies to come up with ideas, review beta products, and create revenue or brand awareness by API adoption.
As a recruitment tool
This is one of the main purposes. Working on the job would obviously not be as extreme as working during a hackathon so the physical and mental limits of the participants are tested. The participants are often found to be sleep deprived and skipping meals to get their work done as soon as they can. Such a competition shows the company how hard working someone really is when it comes to completing a task which is assigned to them and how dedicated they might be on the job.
The advantage of hiring people from a hackathon over traditional interviewing is that interviews are usually low pressure. Interviewing also means more applicants, more time and more money being spent by the company on hiring and recruiting. Also, if an idea is good enough to win a hackathon, it might be good enough to be used by the company. This can either be done by buying the rights for the idea or by offering to hire the team with the winning idea, both of which would be rewarding for the winning team.
As can be seen, there are no real losers at a hackathon, this is the beauty of the competition.
The article is authored by Nishant Nijhawan, Intern, Techxty.com. Nishant is a student of computer engineering at Delhi Technical University who believes in optimal usage of technology.)