Hackathons and Bootcamps: Intensive support for start-ups and benefits for businesses
Hackers pose a risk to companies? No way! An increasing number of companies are beginning to appreciate the expertise and creativity that unconventional strategies provide. Merely identifying weak points in the firewall by means of lifehacks is no longer the only way to ward off hackers. Nowadays it has become common practice for large companies to organize so-called hackathons or hackdays to drive innovations.
Such hackadays have liberated themselves from strictly focusing on IT Today, the emphasis is on the development of new applications with appealing designs right up to the design of new, disruptive business models. The cliché of the IT nerd is outdated – today hackdays are a hotspot for skilled programmers and creative minds alike. And the whole thing takes place in a relaxed atmosphere – over pizza and energy drinks; gifted minds sit together to burn the midnight oil night and discuss various problems down to the smallest detail.
For companies, hackathons are the perfect opportunity to recruit outstanding talents with creative ideas. And it is not even necessary to organize your own event. When it comes to hackathons, universities are also turning into think tanks – at the Campus Hackathon in Munich for example, interested persons are coming together for the second time to implement previously learned theories into practice.
Creative approaches to specific issues
Hackathons have become a popular method for developing joint solution approaches, particularly for specific issues – the fourth Burda Hackday taking place in Munich from April 22 to April 24, is just one example. The future of work is the common theme. Participants will be asked to come up with solutions regarding the work place of the future – from ideas regarding communication to approaches to motivation up to the individual design of the workplace.
New opportunities also arise for industries which are not commonly associated with the workings of “hackers”. Thus, the Med-Hackathon in Erlangen wants to develop new solutions for medical sensors. Various supporters, for example from the Fraunhofer institute or the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, are participating to provide the necessary medical background knowledge.
However, not only companies and supporters benefit from the creations of the hackathons. These happenings are also a perfect opportunity for start-ups with innovative ideas to introduce themselves and present their ideas. In addition to this, participants can also win cash and other prizes for the best approaches. Much more important than the material aspect, however, is the opportunity for founders to identify the potential of their ideas and present them in front of a larger audience. A small group of interested visitors is, after all, often the litmus test, before ideas go public. Moreover, an informal setting often presents the best opportunities for networking. It's not by chance that big companies are acting as supporters – a good opportunity for start-ups and companies to mutually drive innovations.
Tailored support for start-ups
The idea of using hackathons as an opportunity for intensive group work over a short, defined period of time is catching on. At the moment “bootcamps” are establishing themselves in start-up funding, where founders are encouraged to take advantage of specific steps for their business development. This includes Google's Launchpad taking place for the second time in Munich in April.
Selected internal and external mentors support the founders when it comes to critical issues which many young entrepreneurs have to deal with in the initial phase of founding their company. The offer complements existing incubators and accelerators and supports the local start-up ecosystems.
The LMU Munich has also committed itself to this kind of support, hence killing two birds with one stone. At the “Start with Business Planning” event, initiated by the LMU Entrepreneurship Center and the faculty for business administration, students should get away from the theory and focus on practice. This takes place by means of specific business plans, which students develop for already existing start-up projects. This way the students get to know daily practice first-hand, and founders benefit from specific recommendations for action.
With the various events, be it at bootcamps or hackathons, Bavaria distinguishes itself as a think tank and provides established companies and young start-ups with the opportunity to drive innovation.