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What's in a Hackathon?

Stephanie Goldner wrote this on May 01, 2016 under hackathon, inaka .

What’s in a Hackathon?

Only the most powerful tool a tech organization has to boost productivity, creativity, and teamwork! Last Thursday, April 28th Inaka held its 3rd Annual Hackathon but this year with a twist!

Competitors were allowed to order hardware within a certain monetary range to create their products. There were 5 teams made up of backend and frontend developers, QA, and PMs. Each team met before the competition to decide upon a project and order all the necessary equipment before the big day.

So how did it go? See for yourself:

I know I speak for the team and management when I say it was a great success! Each team was able to work together over 1 work day to create powerful products from great ideas.

What was different about this year was that every team built a final product that WORKED! Also, as said by one of our team members "the most impressive thing of this hackathon is that everybody did something. Everybody worked for 8 hours!"

I’m sure you’d love to know what the projects were, but given that some of them will continue to be developed and the winner will compete against the wider ESL organization, those are still TOP SECRET!

But if you think a Hackathon is just about the final product, you’re missing the point. It’s so much more than that! Over the past 3 Hackathons we’ve learned a couple of things:

  1. This is an essential team building opportunity. Developers who normally don’t work together have to create an alliance under pressure to drive a successful outcome.
  2. It breaks team members out of their typical role and into a product development role. Devs don't always have many opportunities to create something they ideate from scratch. This gives them that chance and the learning experiences that comes with it.
  3. As a nice side effect of the friendly competition comes a productivity boost! We find that our teams look forward to the Hackathon year after year, and see it as a “creative break” from their regular projects where they get to do what they love on their own terms.

We will continue to organize Hackathons at Inaka and know that there is still much to learn! Any feedback readers have on what they love about hackathons they’ve attended would be greatly appreciated!

Until next year!