Garage48 has been organising hackathons all over the world across various industries for 12 years. As technologies evolve, so do the needs of people. We want our participants to experience what it is like building a product, thus hackathons focus greatly on product-market fit, design, business model, and technology behind the idea.
From an idea to a prototype in 48 hours
Garage48 hackathons bring together different domain talents such as designers, engineers, data scientists, entrepreneurs, marketers, and many more to form multi-faceted teams and work collaboratively.
In this article, participants of our past hackathons, mentors, jury members, organizers share their reasons on why they joined, keep joining Garage48 hackathons, and why you should too!
Keep reading to find out 🧐
1. Perfect opportunity to fail
90% of startups fail. We have all heard it at some point. Although we are not here to argue the reasons why this happens, it is important to understand that failure is going to be a companion on everyone’s professional and entrepreneurial journeys. So if you cannot avoid it, why not get very good at leveraging it to learn most from experience?
One of the greatest things about joining a hackathon is learning to fail. In the startup world, failing fast is a principle of survival, but it doesn't mean that any idea should be abandoned if it doesn't work immediately. Failing means learning, being grateful for the experience, and embracing the process. A hackathon provides 48 opportunities to fail fearlessly, pivot, and get on the right track with an idea you truly love.
- Maria Yarotska
Failure allows you to have a better understanding of yourself and learn from your mistakes. Failures force us to ponder, reevaluate, and develop new methods and tactics for achieving our objectives.
I've seen thousands of participants who join hackathons just to fail, but I've also seen the change that can happen when people with ideas, vision, and skills come together and combine their awesomeness to build something world-changing.
2. Put your skills to the test with real-life problems
Most of the hackathons have a topic and a range of challenges teams need to build their ideas around. These topics and challenges are formed from direct market needs and issues that a certain industry is facing. You will have to work on problems, solving which will have a real, tangible, and visible impact on your immediate reality and the future.
Making new friends, industry acquaintances, and partners is the goal of networking. You can make rapid advancement in your career by having a stronger professional network. Hackathon is a great place where you can meet like-minded people, make connections and friendships.
You can join the hackathon with your friends to make it more comfortable for you to work and form new connections and friendships.
I met one of my best friends at a hackathon. Also, taking part in the hackathon helped me land my first job, as my skills were noticed by one of the mentors and this is how my career in tech started.
- Tamara Bezljudova, CMO at Garage48
4. Gain a better understanding of new technologies
The world is evolving, new technologies are constantly emerging. Every second, 127 new devices are connected to the internet. The number of smart devices collecting, analysing, and sharing data should hit 50 billion by 2030 and globally there are about 1.35 million tech startups around the world.
Garage48 hackathons reflect the current demand for innovation, mentors at our events are practicing industry professionals ready to work with you. If you want to know the tools and technologies on a certain market and in particular fields, a hackathon is a place to go.
5. Work with experienced mentors
It would not be a Garage48 hackathon without its biggest gem - amazing mentors. It is the closest way to get access to truly amazing professionals that you won’t have access to in any other setting. A Garage48 hackathon is definitely an amazing melting pot of talented professionals that get together to create something amazing.
Garage48 Wood hackathon participants working with a mentor
In 12 years of organising hackathons all over the world, Garage48 acquired a large network of over 2000 industry-leading mentors across a variety of industries. So it is really an amazing experience to work under their mentorship.
6. Opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone
Getting out of your comfort zone provides just the right amount of good stress to boost your focus, creativity, pace, and drive, as well as assist you in dealing with life's stressors when they arise. Hackathons definitely will push you out of your comfort zone and will force you to make decisions fast and take ownership.
This is definitely very stressful, but also very rewarding. Hackathon environment allows you to experience rapid growth, learning many lessons which transfer to your life and career.
You know that feeling of bliss and accomplishment after doing something extraordinary, this is exactly the feeling you get after a hackathon. You will be time-pressured, emotion-pressured, and skill-pressured. (If these are real words?! 😄) But after realising how much you can achieve in that short timeframe when you have a great team and great ideas is mind-blowing. So join a hackathon to relive that feeling over and over again. (Just don’t do it too much - can get quite addictive)
Getting out of your comfort zone on a regular basis improves your brain's tolerance to change, it teaches your brain that there's nothing to worry about - you'll be OK on the other side of a little stress, and it'll be worth it.
7. Give back to the community
Mentoring at a hackathon has many benefits one of which is giving back to the community by contributing to the birth and development of new ideas, knowledge exchange and growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Giving back to the community (at least something, at some point in your life) in my opinion is every specialist's duty. Also, it's an opportunity for me to grow as a mentor, a designer, a person because every time I learn something new. It's an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience to see a team succeed in a hackathon and later in the real world, and know that you helped them to get to the next level!
Dedicating your time to help a cause and the people around you is incredibly beneficial for both you and your community. It has been scientifically shown that people who devote their time to a cause on a regular basis are physically and mentally healthier.
Mentors and Organisers of Be the Future program
Mentoring at a hackathon is like condensing a month of my day-to-day work in one weekend. This means, the positive impact of what people can achieve with the right support is obvious immediately. It's exhilarating and gives me loads of motivation to keep on doing what I do. At the same time, it is very special to be able to work together with such intelligent people that hacks bring together.
- Helery Pops, Honey Badger Capital
At a hackathon you do not only get to build a prototype, get proof of concept, but also win some amazing awards that help you further scale your idea. Hackathon prizes vary and highly depend on the topic. You can win money, access to an acceleration and/or incubation program, as well as tickets to conferences and many more exciting stuff.
Although, winning a prize should not be a primary motivation to join a hackathon, it definitely is a nice addition to all other amazing reasons.
8. Build something of your own
This one must be an obvious one, nevertheless, it is one of the primary reasons to join a hackathon - you get to build your own product and get proof of concept. Most hackathons you can join only with an idea and assemble the team of professionals you need to build it in the process before the hackathon starts. Garage48 makes sure to organise pre-events and other activities for you to have your team together before hackathon starts, so you could focus your time on building the solution.
Solutions built at our hackathons made successful exits or involved venture capital. MSQRD, an AR face-filtering app that was first created in a Garage48 event in Belarus, got acquired by Facebook. The Estonian weather prediction app, Vital Fields, was acquired by Monsanto, which merged with Bayer back in 2018. There are more than 20 teams that have made exits - but many more which have involved venture capital, such as Single.Earth, Montonio Finance, Remato, Hugo.Legal, TweetDeleter, and many more
However, coming to a hackathon is not about getting the funding and winning idea. MSQRD team had great success, but it was their 6th hackathon when they built the app, before that they came, failed, learned many times. It is about the experience of building something of your own from scratch that is so amazing and exciting, which hackathons are perfect for.
9. Learn how to show up
One might learn that for most of the things in life you just have to show up and give your best. Hackathons present a perfect opportunity to learn how to show up and go from nothing to something in a short period of time and how impactful this experience can be on your life.
When you show up in little ways on a regular basis, you increase your chances of being in the correct location when opportunities arise.
I joined my first hackathon 10 years ago in Tartu. Really exciting to put skills into practice and learn from others during this quick 48hours. Over the years I have met at the events lot of startup community people who’s contacts have been valuable during my whole career by opening doors which otherwise wouldn’t have been that easy. Not only the participants but also the organiser’s. This is a must for anyone during university time to get first understanding of entrepreneurship and how to build innovative solutions with lean thinking.
- Taavi Lindmaa
10. Have lots of fun and build lifelong friendships
We saved the best reason for last. Garage48 are genuinely a very fun experience, it involves lots of laughs, stress, learning, pitching, working and you get to do it with people that are just and driven and passionate as you!
I think it goes without saying that the value you get out of a hackathon as a participant is invaluable! It doesn't matter if you are THE BEST at what you do already or even if you fail in the end. It's the experience that matters, the people you meet, and the feeling of giving and sharing the stuff you know with others.
There are sure many more reasons to join a hackathon as the experience is different for everyone. You can come to our hackathons and see what you can add to that list!
Check out our upcoming events and see you at the hackathon! 🚀