Dallas’ reputation as a place that spurs innovation and embraces entrepreneurship has been boosted by our thriving startup economy in recent years. Along with meetups, networking events, and happy hours, the startup community has created events that allow entrepreneurs at every stage in their journey to interact, mingle, and share important information and connections.
Hackathons appeal to both professionals looking to level up their skills and to budding entrepreneurs alike.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with hackathons, here’s a quick primer: Hackathons are events in which both coders and non-coders alike band together to solve a problem and/or build a prototype in a condensed amount of time, typically over the course of a weekend.
Hackathons usually have themes to help participants generate ideas and most feature cool swag giveaways and excellent prizes for the winners. Hackathons appeal to both professionals looking to level up their skills and to budding entrepreneurs alike.
For entrepreneurs looking to take their careers to the next level, hackathons provide fertile ground for testing out new skills and often come with skilled mentors to help hone these skills along the way. And, for those with a burning idea, hackathons provide a safe place to bring prototypes to life as well as a venue to meet like-minded professionals who can help accelerate them from concept to product. Quite simply, hackathons are transformative at both the personal and community levels.
As I made my way through the local Dallas hackathon scene, I began to realize the power of hackathons.
I should know, because I’ve personally experienced the ‘power’ of the hackathon.
Several years ago, I wanted to return to my technical roots, but that meant teaching myself a new programming language and starting from the bottom at a mobile development agency. It seemed daunting and overwhelming, so what I started doing was attending hackathons every single weekend. As I made my way through the local Dallas hackathon scene, I began to realize the power of hackathons. I became friends with other hackathon “regulars.”
More importantly, it connected me to like-minded individuals — other individuals who also contribute to the Dallas startup ecosystem.
One weekend, I filled in on a team who needed an additional member and our team won. Soon, I was presenting winning ideas to influencers and winning bigger and better prizes each time. Ultimately, I was invited to attend the UK G8 Innovation and DNA Summits as part of the mother of all hackathons — a hackathon in the air on a private 747 as part of the British Airways Innovation Lab in the Sky. In a matter of less than two years, I won multiple awards, increased my marketability and successfully pivoted my career — hackathons were an integral part of this.
Hackathons have played an integral part in my own growth, not only as an engineer, but also as an innovator and startup professional.
Fortunately for Dallas, hackathons are now a staple in our startup scene with several large events on the near horizon. The third annual Dallas/Fort Worth Code for Kingdom Hackathon is taking place this year March 20-22 at The Addison Treehouse.
Later, the 24-hour HackDFW will take place April 16-17, and is set to be the biggest to date. In 2015, HackDFW produced North Texas’ first-ever student hackathon, hosted by students at SMU, UTD and UNT. Mark Cuban was even a judge in 2015.
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