Hackathons and Incubators

Following the success of the #SheHacks hackathon in July, Girl Geek Academy hosted the world’s largest female incubator program. Saturday night saw the celebration of the #SheHacks program with a lovely cocktail function; complete with cupcakes of course.

Always amazing graphics, and super cool wine glasses that we could keep

After some networking, the formal proceedings of the evening kicked off with Sarah Moran from Girl Geek Academy talking about the context of our wonderful evening, followed by Minister Phil Dalidakis. Phil spoke about the importance of women in our society, how we have an important role to play to shape our future. Not only that, but we need to be seen as equals so that everyone’s voice is heard. His words fell on the ears of the women in the room and many older ladies commented on the positive changes they have seen since they began working. Check out my LinkedIn for a video.

Next up, we had some great women in the community speak, as well as ladies who had been with the incubator program. Everyone had very positive things to say and lots of fantastic vibes in the room.

Back onto networking, more fun, cupcakes, wine, and such a lovely evening with all my awesome girls! Check out a bunch of other photos on Facebook.

Some of the amazing ladies I get to hang out with (left to right; Casey Thomas, Lisy Kane, Michelle Mannering, Kate Cornick, Sarah Moran, and Steph Chung)

Interestingly, the #SheHacks incubator was started for a number of reasons, one of those being a follow on from hackathons. Now this leads perfectly into what I did next for the weekend. I headed off to Carlton United Breweries for the Hack the World hackathon. The challenges were around consumer and customer experiences with tonnes of innovative ideas presented. I was there for the pitches, with solutions around Augmented Reality games, apps, data visualisation and more presented – check out Twitter for a run down on each of the 13 teams and the winners.

Hack the World Winners received $10,000 cash!!!

What is most interesting is some of the guys and girls from ABInBev came up to me after the awards ceremony and asked “so what now?”. I get this question a lot. People run hackathons, they’re all excited, and then they’re not sure where to go next. Okay, so there’s a number of options, depending on what you want to do, what you can do, and what you have the capacity to do – both from the point of view as an organiser, or participant. These can also be seen as ‘outcomes’ of a hackathon*:

  • Get hired!
    • Organisers – so do you need new people in your organisation? Do you want to shake up traditional thinking? Hiring some people from the hackathon is a great way to spark innovation in your workplace. During a hackathon you see all the skills you’d potentially hire someone for; their knowledge, team work, how they work under pressure, leadership, commitment (I mean people are giving up their weekend!). Some organisations even hold hackathons specifically to recruit people.
    • Participants – do you like your current job? Do you want to do something new? Think about hackathons as a potential segway into your new career. Chat to people, see what’s on offer and think about change.
  • Incubate
    • Organisers – you might like some of the ideas at the hackathon, so why not incubate them? Bring them into your organisation and help them work on their ideas with your help and support!
    • Participants – think your idea has legs and you want to keep going? There are tonnes of grants, incubator programs, and accelerators you can apply for to help get your idea off the ground.
  • Start a business
    • Organisers – just because you already have a company, doesn’t mean you can’t start a new team, new segment, or new department within your organisation. This can be a great way to have innovation projects that are ring-fenced.
    • Participants – do you like your idea so much? What about the team? You can choose to work on your idea after the hackathon with the same team, work with the same team on a different idea, or just get a taste for innovation and start something completely new. It’s up to you… and your team.
  • Do another hackathon!
    • Organisers – liked the hackathon so much? Think it spurred innovation throughout your workplace? Do it again! It doesn’t have to be right away. Think about running them annually, or even changing it up by having an internal only hackathon just for your staff. If you enjoyed the hackathon, chances are everyone else did too, and you should totally do it again.
    • Participants – so you met some cool people, worked on some great ideas, and learned some stuff. Why not do another one? Hackathons are running all the time, all over the place. Click the “hackathons” tab above to see all the hackathons running in Melbourne. Hackathons Australia also has a list of when some interstate ones are coming up.

What if I don’t fit? So you don’t fit into any of the above categories? That’s okay! You probably learned something different, and are going back to your normal work or student life with a different perspective. Perhaps it’s to think outside the square, look at problems and how to solve them, or maybe it’s just to challenge yourself. Whatever your thoughts, I’m sure you enjoyed yourself at your last hackathon.

If anyone wants to chat further about hackathons for their community, organisation, or business, it’s easy to get in touch with me via the links on the right. Looking forward to seeing more of you at more hackathons… I think there are at least 5 more before the year finishes up.


* not all options or outcomes of hackathons are here. These are just some of the main ones!

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