Hackathon Planning

8 Types of Internal Hackathons to Drive Innovation Within Your Organization

Learn how to use internal hackathons as a tool to improve corporate culture, spark innovation, and solve real business challenges.

It’s no secret that innovation is necessary for sustained growth. But, sometimes finding the time for creative thinking outside of day-to-day work is easier said than done. That’s where hackathons come in, and specifically, internal hackathons. 

They’re a powerful tool that many leading companies are leveraging to foster innovation within their teams. (Note: see how organizations like Okta, Finastra, and Healthcare Bluebook use internal hackathons as part of their innovation strategies.) Planning and managing these events, and driving real business results, has never been simpler. 

But what exactly is an internal hackathon and how can it benefit your organization? Let’s get into it and take a look at examples of internal hackathon ideas.

What is an internal hackathon?

An internal hackathon is an event where teams in an organization come together to ideate, innovate, and create solutions. It’s not only about coding. It’s a collaborative effort where diverse talents and skill sets converge to tackle challenges, brainstorm ideas, and prototype solutions in a condensed timeframe.

Now, let’s dive into the various types of internal hackathons your organization can explore:

#1 AI hackathon

In an AI hackathon, teams focus on leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to solve specific business problems. Empower your teams to create innovative solutions using cutting-edge generative AI tools. 

Bring together tech experts and non-technical enthusiasts alike to contribute and explore new possibilities for your business. Generative AI has changed the world of hackathons, but one of the best ways to leverage these events is by providing participants with technical resources to help them build. 

Using a hackathon platform, like Devpost for Teams (DFT), makes it easier to plan these events because it has an AI hackathon template built-in with resources to help team members use generative AI for their projects.

Whether it's optimizing processes, enhancing customer experiences, or automating tasks, AI hackathons encourage teams to explore the potential of AI within your organization.

#2 Bug smash

The bug smash hackathon is a fun and unique opportunity for teams to focus on identifying and resolving issues within existing products or systems. It’s not just about fixing bugs—it’s about enhancing user experiences and improving product reliability.

#3 Product hack

Product hackathons center around ideating and prototyping new product features or entirely novel products. Take time to relentlessly focus on your product and spark innovative solutions that solve real customer problems in a time-bound, collaborative event. Teams collaborate to brainstorm, design, and create minimum viable products (MVPs) that could potentially disrupt the market or elevate existing offerings.

#4 Skill-up hack

Skill-up hackathons focus on upskilling and cross-skilling employees. Participants can share their learnings from various workshops, training sessions, and hands-on activities. Gamification is a great way to learn new technologies, methodologies, or tools that can benefit both their individual growth and the company’s goals.

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#5 UX hack

Are there features in your app or site that feel clunkier than they should? Motivate your team to solve common user experience problems with a UX hackathon. You can choose to ask participants to look at specific features or web pages or leave it open to see what improvements teams come up with.

#6 Visual design hack

Hackathons are not just for developers. Graphic designers and other creative teams can get involved in competitions that inspire creativity and help push your brand forward. A visual design hack is a great way to tackle branding challenges like designing logos, brainstorming creative marketing campaigns, and redesigning tired brand assets. 

#7 OKR hackathon

Need to crush your team’s OKRs before the end of the quarter? Whether you lead a tech team or not, use an OKR hackathon to team up and make a competition out of completing as many goals as possible before the quarter ends. 

#8 Ideathon

Sometimes, the most innovative ideas emerge from open brainstorming sessions. Ideathons are all about ideation, encouraging everyone in the organization to contribute concepts, solutions, or strategies to address specific challenges or explore new opportunities.

Whether it’s coming up with new feature ideas, process improvements, internal tools they want to build, or anything else that will help move the needle, ideathons are a great way to connect with the people who know the ins and outs of your organization. They’re also great for team building and offer a unique activity for teams during company onsite events.

Why run an internal hackathon?

The benefits are numerous. Internal hackathons foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and cross-functional teamwork. They stimulate creativity, accelerate problem-solving, and often produce actionable solutions that positively impact your bottom line. They also provide a platform for employees to showcase their skills, foster employee engagement, and potentially uncover hidden talents within your team.

How do I set up an internal hackathon?

The easiest way to set up an internal hackathon is with a dedicated tool. Using a platform like DFT simplifies planning and managing the event by bringing all the features needed to run it into one place. That means that individual hackathon pages have the schedule, project gallery, resources for participants, and the ability to invite participants all in the same place.

Setting up the event is easy, too, with built-in templates that give you a huge leg up when creating the hackathon page. In fact, you can quickly set up all of the hackathons above using a DFT template.

Looking for more information on planning hackathons? Download this free guide to learn how to plan an internal hackathon for your entire company.

Drive innovation with internal hackathons

Innovation is not a one-time thing. That’s why internal hackathons are such a powerful business tool to spark innovation within your organization, drive meaningful change, and grow your business.

Consider exploring these diverse types of internal hackathons to invigorate your teams, fuel creativity, and ultimately, pave the way for groundbreaking advancements within your company.

Ready to ignite innovation within your organization? Book a free DFT demo and start planning your next internal hackathon today.