Hackernoon logoHow To Convince Your Employer to Host An Internal Hackathon by@hvasconcelos

How To Convince Your Employer to Host An Internal Hackathon

Helder Vasconcelos Hacker Noon profile picture

@hvasconcelosHelder Vasconcelos

CTO & Co-Founder @ TAIKAI | Book author

Hackathons are big rituals in companies like FacebookGoogleNetflix. These innovation competitions helped them to design features and new business lines that contributed to their growth in the most recent years. The innovations built by their talented hackers transformed their businesses, allowing them to raise their supremacy with disruptive and viral offers that otherwise will never see the light of the day. In this article, we'll go over the corporate benefits of hosting an internal hackathon; you can use these points to convince your employer to host a hackathon.

Do you know that in 2007, the famous Like button, which became quite popular with Facebook users worldwide, was created by Justin Michael Rosenstein in an internal company hackathon?

What is an Internal Hackathon? 🤔

An internal hackathon is an innovation competition that spans for a couple of days or hours where you give some free time to your employees to unite in groups and propose new ideas (ideathons), design new products, or business lines (design sprints), or even deliver new product prototypes. 

In the end, the solutions proposed are judged by a jury board or by all the participants and the best teams win a prize or have the opportunity to get support from the organization to make their creation incorporated on their business offer. The event is usually available to your employees or/and business partners and no external participant or player is enabled to join the competition.

We have been helping some companies to craft and produce their internal hackathons, so using our collected experience we decided to share some of the most important benefits and insights that should encourage and inspire other companies to organize these kinds of innovation contests behind doors for their valuable workforce. 

Below we will discuss the top reasons to promote internal hackathons.

Embrace a Creative and Innovative Environment 👨‍🎨

When an organization has an established position on the market, where their business model is more than tested and validated, the company tends to follow a script to conduct their business and fears trying new approaches since there is a high risk of failure. This innovation barrier could sacrifice the business and weaken your talent creativity. By allowing them to test ideas or features or evolve your company models, people will be more incentivized to contribute and be fully connected with the company mission and brand. 

Learning Experience 📖

Hackathons are an excellent and great opportunity to target specific expertise and skills. People have a chance to try new frameworks, tools, and approaches to solve problems and deliver products. These kinds of experiences allow them to try them out in a less risky situation and learn on the way. 

Later they can incorporate what they have learned into the company operation and optimize critical processes improving the company’s capacity to deliver value.

This continuous learning environment is extremely valuable for some professionals and as a consequence in the long run will decrease the company employee turnover. People will feel that they have room to grow as human beings and improve their chances to have a prosperous career.


Promote Internal Networking 👋

In these pandemic days, where almost all the companies work remotely and people work closely with a limited amount of peers it is essential to promote stages where they can interact with people from different backgrounds and have a sense of normality when they can not interact directly with other peers on an office environment. 

Social interactions increase their happiness and their psychological health increasing their productivity and capacity to reach the company goals. There are plenty of studies that have proven that happier employees are more engaged, loyal, and more prepared to make the right decisions on their daily operations. You can take a look at this study Happiness as a Motivator to understand more about this topic.

We could even help them on the way by organizing webinars, ceremonies and promote meetings with mentors. 

Inclusion & Diversity 🙍‍♀️🙍‍🙍🏽‍♀️

When you group people from different backgrounds, locations, divisions, and skills, they tend to produce more out-of-the-box, creative and ingenious solutions to problems. This is fully described and studied in the book “The Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki. Surowiecki refers to the “need for diversity within a crowd to ensure enough variance in approach and thought”.

We encourage you to design an initiate where you promote cross divisions, locations, and skills teams and don’t limit the participation to developers and/or designers. Try to involve business and operation people to create fully heterogeneous groups with a broader perspective that can help each other to achieve higher greatness.

Additionally, when you gather people in an environment where all the company hierarchy is left behind, they can raise their voice and feel more included and connected to the company values. 

The innovation process in any organization should be an inclusive process where the job title, gender or location should not matter at all.

Competition encourages innovation 🏃‍♀️

By allowing your best minds to compete for the final prize or for social recognition, you are creating the perfect playground for them to use their talent to reach their highest level of productivity. When people are under competition they usually use their strengths and smart shortcuts to provide outstanding solutions to meet the hackathon goals. 

We have been following some of our customer's competitions and the quality and the value of solutions proposed by their employees always outpace their expectations. 


In essence, these events are fun and are a cost-effective way to gather your employees in a time-boxed window where they can interact with employees from other divisions, discuss ideas without restrictions and frictions, feel more aligned with the company mission, and leverage their voice in an equally balanced stage. The competition part makes this even more fun and acts as a driver to increase their engagement and desire to be one of the recognizable and honored winners. 🏆

TAIKAI, as a hackathon platform, provides the perfect set of tools to make this event a successful initiative. Participants can create their teams, submit their projects, find teammates for their projects, apply to team positions, follow the leaderboards, receive updates, and cooperate with mentors using a single platform that simplifies all the competition interactions.

Previously published at https://taikai.network/en/blog/5-reasons-to-host-an-internal-hackathon


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