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HACKATHON: A SUBCULTURE

If you really want to make ‘something out of nothing’, you should read the rest of the piece.

Think of the builders, makers, designers or founders – what are they actually doing? The world of startups is flushed with words describing people who are the ‘makers’; And so is the word ‘Hackathon’ which means a ‘design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers collaborate intensively on software projects.

In a general sense, the word “hackathon” is a combination of the words “hack” and “marathon”, where “hack” is used in the sense of ‘exploratory programming’, not its alternate meaning as a reference to computer crime. However today, hackathons are no longer limited to its definition; it is not just for coders. Companies far outside the tech world are using these intense brainstorming and development sessions to stir up new ideas on everything from culture change to supply chain management. Therefore the question rises why should you care about it?

If you are an entrepreneur, the idea of hackathon might help! A hackathon is a gang activity and is an event where lots of people of the same mindset form teams to solve a problem in technology. Participation may occur in group meetings, websites or through mobile apps. There are two types of Hackathons:

PUBLIC HACKATHONS

Some businesses have opened the doors to invite the public to join the project, somewhat like they used to do with focus groups. Public hackathons rely on fresh eyes and outside talent to bring diverse input to the table.

INTERNAL HACKATHONS

It means to lead businesses hosting hackathons for their employees. The efforts target specific issues seeking diverse input and focused effort to accelerate solutions. But the effort also pays respect to the involved employees, values their contributions and engages them.

HACKATHON AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Now you must be wondering how hackathon can be related to entrepreneurship. Today hackathon is a sort of subculture focused on taking a piece of technology and using it in an innovative way, usually with fun or with the hope of having interesting results. It’s more about resourcefulness, exploration, and experimentation. And ultimately, it’s about turning an idea into reality. Isn’t that the whole idea behind entrepreneurship? I mean looking at past fundraising, networking, “growth-hacking,” and other aspects of starting up; entrepreneurship is about having an idea and turning it into a business.

HOW CAN YOU DO THAT AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?

One side of hacker culture is being able to look around you and use everything at your disposal to help build whatever it is that you’re building. So what tools, digital or physical, will help you achieve this goal? The same goes for a startup. If you’re thinking about a startup, take a look and figure out how you can best leverage your assets and the ecosystem around you. The thing is, it’s actually all about having an idea that you think is worth pursuing and going after it. Whether that’s a wild AI chatbot you plan on building in a weekend or even a small business; “making things” is a fulfilling and positive way to view entrepreneurship and startups.

IT IS ALSO A WAY OF LEARNING THROUGH EXPERIMENTATION

One reason that hackathons are so popular among young technophiles is that it provides a chance to test out new ideas as well as test themselves in a new environment. Challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone is a cornerstone of hacker culture. Ask any entrepreneur, and they’ll tell you all about “comfort zone.”

Similarly entrepreneurship provides ample opportunity for experimentation and growth that everyone should take advantage of. Whether it’s pitching to important strangers, trying a new market strategy or just getting yourself out there, make sure that you’re pushing the boundaries of what you as a person are capable of.

THE FOCUS SHOULD BE ON GROWTH

Ask any hackathon attendee whether they succeeded or failed, they’ll probably just tell you how much fun they had. Because in the end, it is not all about success or failure — it’s about learning and personal growth. You could say the exact same thing about entrepreneurship. While obviously you want your business to succeed, whether or not it wins big, you should be focused on personal growth.

That way, even if you fail, you’ll be able to become better at what you do. You’ll become a better builder and you’ll have a higher chance of success next time.

SUMMING UP

Ultimately, many hackers are entrepreneurs, just as many entrepreneurs are hackers. The intersection of these two cultures has produced fascinating results in the past few years, and we can’t wait to see what the next generation of young hackers and startups will build. So whoever you are, you can also try and become a hackathon attendee; atleast to try out something new! ■

 

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