4 Ways Companies Use Hackathons to Build Developer Relationship

Do you remember an article the Forbes digital edition published last year(2015) titled “Every Company’s Now A Technology Company…”? One thing is certain—as each day goes by, this statement sounds more and more cliched; as we already see companies responding to this shift faster than we ever thought. Right now, companies of all kinds are constantly investing in technology to deliver customer value faster than their competitors. A lot of it has to do with this new paradigm of bringing technology at the heart of the business.

This is precisely why hackathons are the darling of businesses now.. “hackathons” — are nothing but hacking competitions that aim to fuel immediate improvement by depending on competitive coders thirst for a challenge. If you’ve ever been to a hackathon, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about—focused programmers working at a feverish pace with a sense of mission. At hackathons, code-mad developers get creative and bring smart ideas to the table while interacting with peers and networking extensively. These events which last for a day or two provide an amazing amount of value to participants, hosts, and sponsors.

Do's & Dont's of Hackathons

Gone are the times when hackathons used to be all-night-long caffeine-induced events where programmers came up with “crazy” ideas to produce the next-gen solution. Hackathons have now become the breeding ground for novel ideas for companies, often becoming the only way to deal with a real-time technical impasse. Firms want working prototypes, and they want it now. Interestingly enough, you’ll see how wonderfully constraints stimulate creativity at hackathons. I have been part of many of these and here I have a few points to nudge you in that direction.

Host a Hackathon

Primarily seen as a tool to "build developer relations", hackathons are used by companies to tap the immense potential offered by this vibrant community of coders to initiate change in various business areas. So why exactly are companies jumping onto the Hackathon bandwagon? I have listed 4 of them which may interest you.

1) Increased adoption with APIs

Getting the tech world to sit up and take notice of your brand becomes easier when you take your company to a hackathon. Corporate branding via this platform helps capture developer mindshare, which is especially vital for API providers. Companies can see how the developers relate to the APIs, programming languages, or operating systems in a relevant context. You can leverage the platform to win the trust of skilled developers who want to be associated with your “amazing” product. At HackerEarth, GoIbibo conducted a hackathon to develop on its APIs. Walmart Labs and Intuit also made use of Sprint(Hackerearth Platform to aid Hackathons) to build developer relations and engage with them.

2) Internal Engagement

Sometimes, real innovation may not even require going that extra mile to reach out to developers outside your company. Companies have started looking within to spawn innovation with their own employees. The process allows employees to have fun while showing their mettle. For example, Exotel via the Hack-the-Talk Hackathon and HP engaged with their own developers on the HackerEarth platform. Companies are now promoting hackathons internally within the organization to maximize product development, churn out creative ideas, and encourage innovation and problem solving and at the same time challenge developers in a fun and interesting way. For example, big tech companies like Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Facebook regularly host internal hackathons.

3) Fostering innovation and problem-solving

Fostering Innovation is becoming an important factor for companies. But what inspires these new concepts? In some cases, it just takes passionate developers to come together, brainstorm and build something unique via hackathons. And at some occasions, these innovations are aimed at addressing issues affecting larger human well-being. Nasscom’s Tech-Engage is one of those, where India’s best tech talent come together to build concepts for smart cities.

4) Crowdsourcing Ideas

As much as hackathons help foster innovation, they also serve the purpose of crowdsourcing ideas for companies. Not all apps developed in hackathons come into existence. Companies can use their resources and build on top of these ideas and come up with a go to market product. IBM regularly conducts hackathon to source new ideas and urge developers to use its IBM Bluemix platform.

Times are changing very rapidly and technological disruptions can arise from anywhere be it a startup, large enterprise, or even a team. By organizing a Hackathon, companies provide a platform for the talented individuals to come together and collaborate and build something new or even a disruptive technology. If you are a product startup or a small organization, hackathons can help you get great ideas and at the same time reinforce the commitment of building a good product. For large organizations too, hackathons can help you boost the brand image and can garner mindshare. What started as an industry fad or a trend is transforming rapidly into an innovation platform for companies which now have a planned hackathon strategy in place.

Bring your business closer together. Create a winning culture. Try a hackathon... Build Developer Relationship

**In case you are interested in conducting and managing a hackathon, you could check out HackerEarth Sprint.

Hackerearth has helped more than 100 companies globally with hackathons.

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About the Author

Vishal Pathik Gupta
Developer Evangelist and Community Manager | Startups | Philosophy | Photography | Music | Cooking | SND | GDG BLR | Believe in making things simple & straight forward!