What makes a successful hackathon?

Hackathon is a good, intense way to kickstart a bigger organisation’s cooperation with startups. Respectively, it’s a streamlined way for a startup to connect with a client they might not be able to even book a meeting with in the first place.

Antti Rantanen (below) is a man on the mission to bring corporations and startups together.

Antti's organizing several hackathons this year, latest being #messuhack for Suomen Messut (Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre).

Getting brilliant startups to attend a hackathon is a must.  Based on the #messuhack experience, Antti gives us his three other takes on what makes a hackathon successful:

1. Good settings

Hackathon can take anything from a few days to month. Where you work has a huge impact on your motivation and energy levels.

“I want to specially congratulate Suomen Messut in really putting effort into their venue. They managed to translate the spirit of hackathon into a physical, creative space.  In hackathons it’s always the little things that matter, f. ex the catering. Startups were so happy that they were well fed and could only focus on creating a killer concept for the organizer.”

Look at that setting. Picture: Pekka Hannila

Look at that setting. Picture: Pekka Hannila

2. The wow effect of a new business concept

Usually startups implement their existing software in creating their business case for hackathon’s Demo Day. Some do it more creatively, some less – and some startups make a U-turn in the mid-way of the hackathon and build something completely new.

“Best moment  of #messuhack was when Culinar (the winning startup) figured out a totally new concept that ended up winning the whole hackathon. Culinar didn’t approach the problem solely from their offering point of view, but they innovated a completely new idea, built a functioning prototype and demoed it successfully to the client - it was in the true spirit of hackathon.”

That’s our winner, Reetu Kainulainen from Culinar, with the #messuhack judges:

3. The aftermath

The true value of a hackathon is measured in the following months. Will the organization partner up with one or more of the attended startups? What happens with the winner?

“This is the chance for Suomen Messut to make a real leap in their digital transformation utilizing startups. To begin with, I want to see a pilot happen with Culinar. I personally think that at least four of the attended teams have a real opportunity to work with Suomen Messut in a beneficial partnership. I want to see at least two new business concepts live before next Christmas and two more before next summer. In my opinion, that would be the best outcome for Suomen Messut and the participants.”


To learn more about #messuhack, visit messuhack.fi

In September, Antti will be running two new business hackathons: one for VR and one for SRV.

Article picture credit: Pekka Hannila