Hackathons are growing more and more popular. You may be wondering about the benefits of hackathons and whether it is a good idea for your business. Or, you may believe hackathons are only for tech companies or techies. This guide will tell you what a hackathon is, why it would benefit your business to host one, and how you can use a hackathon for recruitment.


What is the purpose of a hackathon?

First off, what is a hackathon? A hackathon is used to solve a problem by gathering people together to come up with ideas or to work on new product development. It can be used to solve a problem within your own company, such as how to better engage with your customers, or it can address a real-world issue completely outside your company.

Generally, a hackathon will last one to three days, depending on how much problem-solving you need to do. You create teams, and they all come up with their own solution and present at the end of the hackathon. You take the best idea and move forward with it. 

Are hackathons worth it?

You may be asking yourself why hackathons are becoming so popular and are hackathons worth it. Many large companies like Facebook, Hasbro, and Capital One host hackathons to improve their business. For example, Facebook came up with the Like button during a hackathon. At Hackathon.com, we have worked with Loreal to help them host a hackathon where people developed innovative ideas for the beauty industry.

It is becoming a popular way to bring employees from different departments together to help solve a problem. You will get the best ideas by bringing diverse people together like programmers, financial advisors, coders, and marketers. Then, everyone brings a different perspective, and you are more likely to get useful ideas. This ends up helping the company by finding a solution along with increasing positive company culture.

Hackathon benefits: Why every company should host one

There are many benefits of being a hackathon organizer. It puts you at the head of an event that can create positive solutions for your business along with improving company morale. Here are several more ways of how organizing a hackathon benefits you and your business.


Benefit 1: Good PR

Whether you choose to do a hackathon for an internal business problem or an issue outside your business, you can use it for positive PR. 

If you choose to tackle an internal company problem, you can still invite people from outside your workforce to collaborate. This is a great way to get your business name out there. To sweeten the pot and get more people interested in participating, you can offer a prize related to your business. You can also look into getting a hackathon sponsorship which will allow your name to be connected to a well-known name brand.

Benefit 2: New Qualified & Talented Workforce

A hackathon is also an excellent way to find qualified and talented employees. If you need a new employee or even multiple employees, you can find them by hosting a hackathon. Determine a business problem or even a theoretical problem, and send out a general call for anyone to participate.

As the attendees participate in the hackathon, you will begin to see their skill sets develop. When they present their ideas during the final presentation period, you will know who your top applicants should be. You can then take those final people through additional interviews to determine who would be the best fit. 

You can, of course, rely on reading resumes, but it can be difficult to tell what skills people actually know or how in-depth they know them by reading a resume. A hackathon gives you a glimpse into their technical and critical thinking skills.

Your hackathon is also a great way for you to show these potential new workers what your employer brand is. Through the hackathon, they can begin to see what your business is like and what you value.

Benefit 3: Motivating Your Employees

Hosting an internal hackathon, which is a hackathon where only your employees participate, can positively affect motivation. Some people worry they will rock the boat by suggesting changes, but a hackathon shows people that the business encourages critical thinking and useful changes.

Also, Newton's First Law of Motion states that an object in motion stays in motion. You can apply this principle to people who participate in hackathons. Once someone has practiced using their critical thinking skills during the hackathon, they will continue to use those skills outside the hackathon. This creates a sense of motivation in your employees and creates an ecosystem of trust and development.

Creating an ecosystem of trust and development is crucial to your business remaining successful. The more comfortable your employees feel, the greater employee retention you will have. In addition, when you have less turnover, your employees work together better because there is less time spent on getting new people up to date.


What are the advantages of using hackathons for recruitment?

While hackathons are typically used to solve a problem either within the business or outside it, you can use a hackathon to recruit new employees. Here are three advantages of using hackathons to recruit employees.

Advantage 1: Save time

The traditional recruitment process can take a long time. This wastes the time of the company, along with the people applying to the position. Businesses can spend weeks or months searching through applications and not find the person they are looking for.

Hosting a hackathon means you have people who may be a good fit for your company right in front of you. You can see their skills in action and see who you would like to move forward with in the interview process. People sometimes embellish their skills on their applications, so you can see first-hand who actually has the necessary skills. Hackathons take place over a short period of time, so you can find new talent quickly.

Advantage 2: Reach International Recruits

One distinct advantage of a virtual hackathon is that anyone from all over the world can participate. This means you could see the skill sets of attendees from many countries who you ordinarily would not be able to easily see. 

Hiring people from other countries can be difficult because the interview process can take so long, and it can be challenging to make times line up due to differing time zones. By having people participate in a hackathon, you get glimpses at their skills, eliminating some of the interview process. 

Advantage 3: Fewer Nerves

Some people don't handle one-on-one interviews very well. They get extremely nervous, and you may not see them for everything they are truly able to do. However, during a hackathon, people can dig into a problem and show off their critical thinking and technical skills.

A group environment allows people to let their guard down and focus on solving the problem with their group. Whereas in a one-to-one interview, the pressure is all on the one person, which can cause them to freeze up. A hackathon gives you a better picture of what someone is capable of.


Organize a hackathon with Hackathon.com

There are many benefits to organizing your hackathon with Hackathon.com. 

Benefit 1: Plenty of Experience

Hackathons are what we do, so we know all the ins and outs required to plan a successful hackathon. Therefore, you don't need to worry about forgetting any essential pieces because we know everything you should have.

You can take advantage of our tools, including our Hackathon management platform and judging tools. We also have guidelines for challenge creation, T&C templates, and much more.

Benefit 2: Can Host Different Types of Hackathons

We can create an external hackathon, internal hackathon, or even a virtual hackathon. Each type of hackathon can be broken down into specific goals. Here is a glimpse of what each hackathon looks like if you organize through us.

Open innovation (external hackathon)

  • Lasts roughly 48 hours over the weekend and is open to anyone interested
  • The event develops solutions to business challenges while offering an ideal format for startup collaboration and time-sensitive product or service launches.

Follows this format:

  • Opening talk
  • Idea pitching and team formation
  • Hackathon launch
  • Workshops and 1:1 mentor meetings
  • Judging
  • Award Ceremony

Talent recruitment (external hackathon)

  • Combines traditional competition with individual and team challenges, mentor follow-up, and HR interviews
  • Main purpose is to attract potential employees, test their skills, determine if they will fit in with company culture, and ultimately hire a candidate
  • Takes place over 1-3 days

Follows this format:

  • Opening talk
  • Hackathon launch and team formation
  • Individual challenge(s)
  • Team challenge(s), office hours, and 1:1 meetings
  • Judging
  • Award ceremony
  • HR interviews

Developer relations (external hackathon)

  • Specific developers you are targeting are invited to build products through a combination of hackathons and workshops
  • Designed to introduce and expose participants to your technology
  • Lasts 1-3 days

Follows this format:

  • Opening Talk
  • Hackathon launch and team formation
  • Hands-on workshop, office hours, 1:1 meetings
  • Judging
  • Award ceremony

Generate solutions and identify intrapreneurs (internal hackathon)

  • Engages collaborators from specific departments who work together to develop solutions to business challenges
  • It is ideal for employee mobilization and identifying promising and talented individuals within your team
  • Lasts 2-4 days

Follows this format:

  • 1-day internal expo
  • Opening talk
  • Design workshops and idea pitching
  • Launch and team formation
  • Office hours, workshop, 1:1 meetings with mentors
  • Judging 
  • Award ceremony

Internal training (internal hackathon)

  • Combines traditional competition with conferences, workshops, and mentor follow-up
  • Can provide hands-on learning and specific training with new technologies or tools
  • Lasts 2-4 days

Follows this format:

  • Opening talk
  • Hands-on workshops
  • Launch and team formation
  • Office hours and 1:1 meetings with experts
  • Judging
  • Award ceremony

Team building internal hackathon

  • Teams brainstorm innovation solutions by participating in fun activities like yoga, quizzes, and more
  • Strengthens employee teamwork skills while also creating business value
  • Takes one day

Follows this format:

  • Opening talk
  • Launch and team formation
  • Fun activities throughout the day (quizzes, idea roulette, social media games)
  • Judging
  • Award ceremony

Internal launch (internal hackathon)

  • Invites startups to an innovation showcase where R&D teams can interact with the participants
  • Followed by a hackathon that is designed to develop prototypes and pave the way for collaborations with Startups/Suppliers
  • Lasts three days

Follows this format:

  • 1-day internal expo
  • Opening talk
  • Idea pitching
  • Launch and team formation 
  • Office hours, workshops, and 1:1 meetings with mentors
  • Judging 
  • Award ceremony

Open innovation and community building (virtual hackathon)

  • Startups work with your internal teams to create solutions to business challenges
  • Works well to bolster startup programs and increase the number of projects using a particular technology
  • 4-6 weeks of online competition

Follows this format:

  • Opening webinar
  • Challenges presentation
  • Competition launch and team formation
  • Office hours, workshops, and 1:1 meetings with mentors
  • Final demos and judging
  • Awards ceremony

Internal training (virtual hackathon)

  • Combines traditional competition with conferences and interactive workshops
  • Attendees can book 1:1 meetings with mentors
  • Provides a hands-on experience to team members that is engaging and memorable
  • Lasts 2-4 days

Follows this format:

  • Opening talk
  • Hands-on workshops with selected experts
  • Hackathon launch and team formation
  • Office hours and 1:1 meetings with experts
  • Judging
  • Award ceremony

Team building (virtual hackathon)

  • Allows teams to brainstorm innovative solutions in an entertaining and fun manner
  • Integrates activities like remote games and quizzes to keep everyone engaged
  • Lasts one day

Follows this format:

  • Opening webinar
  • Competition launch and team formation
  • Fun activities throughout the day (quizzes, idea roulette, social media games)
  • Judging
  • Award ceremony

Benefit 3: Global Network and Talent Pool of Participants

We offer access to a global network that includes mentors, judges, tech partners, and speakers. We also have a database of designers, innovators, and developers. In addition, our unique suppliers for catering, venues, and fun add-ons, among other things, will make your event a success. If you are having trouble getting participants, we can provide those for you as well!

We have a presence across the US, Middle East, Europe, and Asia. This means we can run your event anywhere in the world with tailored recruitment. We also offer white-label, customized formats for any industry or topic.

Final points on benefits of hackathons

Hackathons can be used for various purposes, including solving an internal business problem, tackling an external issue, recruiting new talent, and providing team building. No matter which purpose you are trying to achieve, a hackathon will give you many benefits. This is why hackathons are so popular.

There are many benefits of a hackathon, including good PR, cultivating a new workforce, and motivating employees, among others. Finding new employees can be a long, tedious process if you go through the traditional means of sifting through applications. Hosting a hackathon allows you to skip that step and see potential employees in action.

Hosting your hackathon through Hackathon.com is a sure-fire way to make sure your event goes off without a hitch. We offer three different styles of hackathons, including external hackathons, internal hackathons, and virtual hackathons. Within each hackathon style, you can choose to focus on specific goals such as recruitment or team building.

So, why are hackathons important? Hackathons are a great opportunity to solve a problem while also getting multiple other benefits. Consider hosting your first hackathon event and see how much it can benefit your business.