Although most teams leave hackathons with no intention of pursuing their ideas in the real world, some teams have been able to successfully start a business with their team. For example, companies such as PillPack and SmartScheduling were both conceived at healthcare hackathons. To facilitate participants actually realizing their ideas, some hackathons award winners with time in an incubator or connections to industry leaders who can help make their ideas a reality. When CAMTech held a recent hackathon in India, for example, the top three teams were awarded one month in an incubator.
Many hackathons also keep lists of former participants and alert them to future hackathons or other opportunities in the same field. “Hackathons are important for building relationships and building network,” says Justin Mendelson of HackFit. “They give you a list of 1,000 smart, driven people.” Even if most hackathon participants don’t come out of the event with a business, participating in the event is a tremendous networking opportunity, one which hackathon organizers can use to their advantage.
Brendan Pease was MedTech Boston's first ever editorial and events intern. He is now a junior at Harvard University where he studies Molecular and Cellular Biology. He’s also the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Harvard Science Review. Previously, he worked as a Market Intelligence intern at athenahealth and as a research assistant in the Goldberg Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.
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