• Hackdays

What is a hackathon? Definitions from 3 experienced organisers

Updated: Oct 30

Hackathons have become a new trend in the world of tech. So probably, you have heard this term before. It sounds so trendy and interesting but: What are the benefits of participating?


At first, you might think that the word “hackathon” is composed of “hacking” and “marathon”, which is actually true! However, let me assure you: the word “sprint” fits better because a hackathon is a madly fast ride. … but hacksprint does not sound so cool, I guess.


If you go on Google and search for a general definition, I am sure that you will find these essential points:

  • 1 weekend (mostly)

  • 50-500 people from all over the world (mostly, too)

  • Everyone can participate! Most are between 20-30 years of age

  • Originally just IT nerds – but nowadays all kinds of fields of expertise

  • 2 modes: online (virtual) and offline (on-site, physical)

  • You usually work for a company or an NGO

  • You create solutions to drive digital transformation in companies or work towards a common good (for example “climathons”)

  • You learn a lot; you can win prizes or get new job opportunities.

You’ve known all that before? Let our lovely teammates give you their personal definitions and a lot of deep, first-hand experience. Then you will see that the new rise in popularity comes for good reasons!


Oliver Brümmer - Founder & CEO at The Hackathon Company

What is a hackathon?

People come to a hackathon with a great knowledge and many skills from different fields. The right resources, tools and methods are combined in ONE team, generating long-term solutions in a short time.

Why should people join hackathons?  

There are many reasons! Exchanging knowledge, networking, experiencing new tools, participating in a great international community, and achieving great awards from challenge setters (money/gifts/vouchers). Above all, memorable experiences are something that everyone can expect!

What do you recommend people to bring with them to hackdays?

Bringing your individual knowledge is very important but applying that knowledge together in a colourful team is something else. Therefore, everyone should be open-minded to new ideas, methods, and tools. Besides, people should arrive relaxed and not too sleepy since they will not sleep much during a hackathon!

What are your best tips & tricks to win a hackathon?

Joining as a team is better than joining as a single person. Therefore, before participating, I would recommend people to choose the right team that they can work with and have nice time together. Also, a team should choose the right topic that fits their knowledge best. Most of all, everybody should bring the best of oneself, keep calm, and stay relaxed.

Any final thoughts for hackathon-interested people?

''People usually think that a hackathon is a place for software developers. BUT it’s actually for everyone!'' - Oliver

From my experience, only a team with multiple backgrounds will be successful. All team members should try to understand each other and get the most of everyone’s background.

Rayna Hristov - Project Manager at The Hackathon Company

What is a hackathon?

Generally, a hackathon can be defined as a place where people with different backgrounds come together and work on a challenge of a company to develop a solution. At our hackdays, it’s even more than that. People bring great spirit, emotions, and a lot of passion to our events. They are here for the unique relations and being part of something GREAT!

Why should people join hackathons?

One of the greatest benefits of joining a hackathon is the exchanging contacts, not only with companies but also with other talents from all over the world. Within one weekend, a great community is formed. It is very exciting for the talents to be a part of this community. Besides, the attractive prizes are also a motivation for talents to join the hackathon.

What do you recommend talents to bring with them to hackdays?

For me, passion is the most important thing that a talent should always bring to the hackdays. Besides, willingness to work with participants you do not know, great knowledge and extensive hardware and software skills.

What are your best tips & tricks to win a hackathon?

Being different! Think outside the box. And also, being open to something new (ideas, technologies, tools…).

Any final thoughts for hackathon-interested people?

''The unique hackathon spirit is totally different from any other event’s spirit.'' - Rayna

Talents come together, exchange contacts, find friends, create innovative solutions and have a great touchpoint with leading companies. Even though it is an intense time for everyone, in the end, the feeling of connectivity makes everyone happy and satisfied.

Arnaud Thien - Product Management at hackdays

What is a hackathon?

For me, a hackathon requires strong collaboration between strangers to innovate and deliver quality solutions in a short amount of time.

Why should people join hackathons?

Hackdays is a great place for you to step out of your comfort zone, to challenge yourself with problems of cutting-edge companies, and to get to know awesome people. And most importantly, to have fun!

What do you recommend people to bring with them to hackdays?

The right mood, an open mind, a functioning laptop.

What are your best tips & tricks to win a hackathon?

Teamwork is the most important factor. Therefore, I would say, people should not be shy, stay open-minded and listen to others. Conversations between members should be kept going constantly throughout the event. All in all, a winning team knows how to get things done.

Any final thoughts for hackathon-interested people?

''I’ve never seen a person that did not learn anything after our events – and I’ve seen many people and events throughout my time as an organiser.'' - Arnaud

You know, at hackathons, strangers are put into an extreme situation, which requires them to work together 48 hours – non-stop! So, you need it all – stamina, communication skills, open-mindedness and great individual knowledge.

About the author:

This article was written by Anh Nguyen.

All photos taken from our own materials!

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Tel: +49 (0) 621 15028835

Email: hello@thehackathoncompany.com​