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When Large Enterprises Don't Correctly Use Hackathons

In the past few years large enterprises began organizing hackathons as a means to innovate, find recruits and raise market awareness. And yet, companies are still spending money on hackathons with minimal results over time because of some basic mistakes:

Ill-defined challenges

When preparing for the hackathon, problem owners within the enterprise should be creating the hackathon’s content. They should be defining the challenge as accurately as possible, the current situation, explain what has been done so far and what are the desired outcome. The better the challenges are defined, the better the results, whereas ill-defined challenges create confusion during the hackathon and reflect badly on your organization.

Not enough guidance during the event

Close mentorship during the hackathon is crucial for good hackathon results. From the get go mentors should be there to guide teams, ensure they are stopping irrelevant ideas before they take root and guide teams towards ideas that are of relevance to your company. Good practice calls for oversight of the work process from the on-set. Not enough mentorship and guidance during the event can result in near misses or worse at the final pitching event.

Lack of follow-up

If enterprises are not following up immediately after the hackathon with winning teams, the momentum and its innovation potential might be lost. Opportunities to innovate are missed, expectations set during the event are not met and the company’s reputation is damaged. The lack of follow-up is usually a result of either not enough buy-in of the organization into the hackathon, or not enough planning of the day after.

Not inviting startups

Startups have been working on products and services that might be very relevant for your company. Usually enterprises meet startups during scouting trips. When you add startups to your hackathons you actually get to meet them up close, work with them and familiarize yourself with their products. Startups, especially at early stages, are looking for beta sites, design partners or a first client. Hackathons are a great opportunity to meet dozens of startups, establish relations and begin conversations within an exciting day’s work.