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Can Hackathons help blockchain companies grow faster?

Rodrigo Nogueira
Rodrigo Nogueira


The tech world has seen the rise of hackathons, virtual or face-to-face events where people get together to find solutions to a problem collaboratively. They are events where the people who participate collaboratively solve a problem quickly. On the other hand, although this rising is held by technology companies, this methodology can be applied to any sector and industry.


However, for today's article, we are focusing on a strict tech market niche, blockchain! ⚙️ We will discuss and summarize how blockchain hackathons can help companies evolve their digital ecosystem for better results and innovative ideas.

We all know that Blockchain developers learn 📖, hack 👨🏻‍💻, and network 🗣 at events designed to foster innovation around cutting-edge blockchain technologies. Under this format, multiple, fast and effective solutions to the same problem can be developed and serve as triggers for a culture of innovation.

What are the primary industries impacted by blockchain hackathons?


FINANCIAL SECTOR

The financial sector is undergoing a major digital transformation. One of these changes is related to Decentralized Finance, a broad concept encompassing all disruptive technology and digital solutions that remove the need for intermediaries in applications through intelligent blockchain contracts or smart contracts.  


An excellent example of this type of transformation is Kiva. A digital marketplace where individuals can lend as little as $25 to create opportunities for people worldwide. In partnership with a global network of local lending institutions, Kiva.org provides loans for more than 3.5 million entrepreneurs and others in need. 


They created a blockchain hackathon to support microfinance using a decentralized digital identity platform, empowering borrowers to verify informal and formal past financial history to increase credit for people excluded from traditional financial institutions. 

Their objective is to use blockchain protocol to help users record their financial transactions, transfer that information between institutions, and gain access to formal bank accounts. Essentially, improving their customer experience.


GAMING INDUSTRY

GameFi is one of the most blazing recent fads to rise out of the crypto business, joining decentralized money (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with blockchain-based web-based games. 

In contrast to numerous conventional web-based games, which work on a "pay-to-win" show and permit players to buy moves up to acquire a benefit over others, GameFi presents a "play-to-procure" model. This idea includes giving players monetary motivations to play and advance through games. Sometimes, this has permitted gamers to acquire full-time pay this way.


ART INDUSTRY

In the art industry, the use of Blockchain and “tokenization” started to increase global access to the art market and reduce transaction costs.

In the digital art world, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are being used to certify the ownership of works. For example, artist Beeple uses NFTs based on Blockchain technology to create a unique signature for each piece of art he sells, allowing him to track each work, earn royalty payments, and avoid counterfeiting.

At TAIKAI, we have a hackathon with the objective of bringing NFTs to a broader audience and giving artists the chance to control all aspects of their art, including distribution and monetization.


RETAIL SECTOR

Consumers' trust in the retail system is closely related to their faith in the market where their purchases are made. Blockchain could decentralize that trust, shifting that security more to the vendors and less to the marketplace sites themselves.

Startups like OpenBazaar are developing decentralized Blockchain utilities for buyers and sellers without an intermediary and associated fees. Customers buy products using any of the 50 cryptocurrencies, and sellers are paid in various cryptocurrencies.

Louis Vuitton also innovated by creating a platform with Microsoft and blockchain startup ConsenSys for luxury authenticated products through the Blockchain. They name it AURA and allows customers to track their products from design to distribution, protecting against counterfeit products and fraud.

ENTERTAINMENT SECTOR

In the entertainment industry, blockchain-based solution is coming to “take the sleep” of streaming giants such as Netflix and Youtube. With the technology, it is possible to decentralize the encoding, storage, and distribution of video content, thus drastically reducing the cost of video traffic.

VideoCoin Network is an example of a company that is already working on releasing this capital. The decentralized network provides cloud video infrastructure – encoding, storage, and distribution – in the form of a point-to-point algorithmic marketplace. It runs on a new Blockchain where customers spend VideoCoins on renting these services.


E-COMMERCE SECTOR

The use of Blockchain can transform electronic commerce, reducing transaction costs and increasing transaction security. Industry giants such as Walmart, Amazon, and Alibaba have begun to explore this technology and created an innovation ecosystem.

Alibaba, for example, filed a patent for a blockchain-based transaction system in Brazil in March 2020.

On the other hand, Blockchain can play a valuable role in traceability for global commerce, ensuring proof of delivery and securely tracking contract details without the risk of data being altered or tampered with.


FOOD AND BEVERAGE SECTOR

Blockchain has been used as an accountability platform in the food and beverage industry that can help reduce food recall and mislabelled products. For example, Blockchain-based tracking can be easily applied as a QR code that, when scanned, shows the complete journey from a product to a customer's cart.

Walmart and Sam's Club have joined IBM's Food Trust network, which uses a ledger distributed on Blockchain. In 2018, retailers asked their suppliers, especially green leafy vegetables, to add their product data to the log by 2019.

Nestlé and Carrefour are also testing a similar service with customers for their mashed potato product Mousline in France. Consumers can gain access to data stored on the project's Blockchain by scanning a QR code on the Mousline packaging, allowing them to see how the product has traveled from the farmer to the Nestlé factory and its Carrefour store.



Blockchain hackathons, a multiverse solution

A hackathon is a relatively simple and resource-saving way to tap into the creativity of the developer and creator scene. But behind the concept exists a bigger world.


A bigger world where more and more companies (yes, blockchain companies are not the only ones to use this methodology) are discovering diverse solutions by promoting hackathons with a developer and creative communities. After all, alternative perspectives result in more, better solutions and creative ideas.


To give you an idea, an online hackathon recently held by a student association of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), with more than 600 participants, developed a series of solutions to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 worldwide.

One of the winning projects was an application that permits users to send letters to nursing-home residents who may feel isolated from friends and family during the Covid period. A project totally focused to drive engagement between users.

On the other hand, in Spain, 2020, there was a hackathon, where hackers from all over Spain will be able to develop innovative technological solutions to respond to more than a hundred social challenges posed by NGOs, foundations, institutions, and universities to build a better world.


One of the solutions was a verified-user acquisition action to increase the number of current users and reach 2.5MM registrations in Waylet. This payment app allows you to pay quickly and securely at Repsol service stations.

In 2021, E³UDRES² was working on a hackathon, 36 hours to attract people of all kinds to act as change agents transforming their neighborhoods into intelligent and sustainable regions and contributing solutions to global challenges, e.g., circular economy, well-being, and the human contribution to artificial intelligence.


One of the challenges was to a Portugal entity, AVIPE, a grapevine consultancy. And the idea was to create intelligent tools to support early detection/diagnostics/monitoring of vineyard infestations. As a result, IoT devices or AI-powered vineyard pest traps were on the verge of being developed.

These examples prove that it’s possible to code for a better world and way of living. So, why cannot change an even more specific niche like the blockchain market that’s naturally digital? To help answer this question, we present a blockchain hackathon solution for the food area.

In 2019, IBM Food Trust™, a sponsor of the University of Arkansas Blockchain Center of Excellence, challenged students to design a solution that would allow consumers to provide feedback on food quality while engaging with pertinent food information. A solution that proves that customer experience, it's important and a base for the company’s success.



Can blockchain hackathons increase innovation inside companies?

At this moment, you know that numerous companies have carried out this kind of work dynamic. Not to speak about Facebook, Google, NASA, or Telcel, which are hackathon "geeks". The digital transformation and the capacity for innovation they want to achieve are why large organizations hold these hackathons. In other words, they always seek new business challenges.

Through them, blockchain companies can strengthen their digital security (payment methods, cybersecurity, customer service, user experience, etc.), support innovation and entrepreneurship, facilitate financial management and education and detect, promote and retain talent.

At this moment, we know how hackathons can help generate business ideas and viable products. So, what's the next step? Check out some benefits of how hackathons can help blockchain companies grow faster.


Why Your Blockchain Company Should Run A Hackathon?


Different eyes, different solutions

Over 80% of Fortune 100 companies conduct hackathons to drive innovation. More than 50% of the hackathons are recurring events, indicating a reliable tool for sustained innovation. Perhaps this is the most crucial benefit. The hackathon makes it possible to use different talents to think of initiatives that attack a common problem.

Through these accelerating ideas, insights emerge that become projects and can positively impact the company and its products. For instance, in general, blockchain companies and other firms tend to gain a lot of problem-solving expertise from such hackathons, which also have the added benefit of being financially economical.

Be a top-of-mind market solution

The more people who know about your company, the better - especially if you opt for promotion by digital means. Blockchain markets are very competitive. So, the key to getting the best of your hackathon and company out to a broader audience is to spread the word. Partner with universities, sponsored social media campaigns, traditional media ads, and whatever else it takes to capture the most registrants and audience.

So, how can hackathons help Blockchain at this point? PR and Marketing are a halfway solution to strengthen your company's presence in the industry and connect your name to innovation within days.


Your next recruitment tool

This exchange of experiences will expand the networking of participants and, in the case of an external hackathon, grow the network of contacts of the organization itself.

Some companies use hackathons as recruitment and promotion tools. Hackathons give recruiters access to innovative ideas, as well skill sets, that might not have been considered otherwise. 


They also provide great exposure for jobseekers by generating buzz around your hiring offers. Companies will often sponsor or host these events as part of their recruiting strategy.

As all tech players know, talent in this area it's constantly changing. Better participants, better solutions for your blockchain solutions.


Diminish your errors, give your company security

It is worth remembering that Blockchain was developed from the need to create a reliable and efficient system to record financial transactions, avoiding fraud, cyber-attacks, or even user errors. This is why financial services present several application cases for Blockchain.  So, a hackathon can be an excellent playground to find security vulnerabilities for your project.

In 2016, in Ukraine, there was a hackathon focus on cyber-security. In less than 48 hours, 16 teams of IT specialists, business analysts, and Blockchain/Bitcoin enthusiasts brainstormed and designed viable business ideas based on the Blockchain-distributed technology. 


In this case, an open-source solution was developed, available to anyone. The objective was to encode user data with OpenSSL to be accessed with a personal security key. This way, the Ethereum Blockchain app platform would provide routing between client and server and perform an escrow function, ensuring transparency of the deal.


Blockchain hackathons could mean new products!

Many startups and businesses that host hackathons want to test newer aspects of their company or product with external developers before implementing them internally. Because of the natural diversity and teamwork that such hackathons bring forward, they show to be the ideal environment for such idea testing and creation.

For example, Hasbro toys famously created 45 products throughout just one hackathon. Likewise, names like GroupMe and WorkFlow have emerged from hackathons, and in GroupMe's case, led to an $85 million acquisition from Microsoft.

In the blockchain world, companies like Digital Asset and SE2 prepared a hackathon focused on Daml, a multi-party application platform created by Digital Asset, to develop innovative Blockchain and smart contract applications.


Adoption of technologies

Digital transformation requires changes in company culture. And these changes involve investments that may initially impact the budget. By holding a hackathon, the organization will be updated on technological trends and become solutions to reduce costs and time in processes. 

Today, speed and agility on the blockchain niche are central to driving business value, making hackathons a valuable tool for accelerating organizational change and fostering a quick-march, customer-centric, can-do culture.

Sense of Community

Many innovative businesses managers learn how hackathons can help blockchain companies because they recognize the value of developing a self-sustaining, positive ecology around them. 

Hackathons, as a clever marketing technique, can also aid in expanding a company's external network, particularly among engineers, who are often participating in feedback and content development. 

Furthermore, DailyCoin defends that community participation makes learning the core value of the Blockchain easier to understand. Those who choose to engage in and participate in hackathons are typically intelligent and capable individuals who would keep in touch with the company's external relations staff for future events if the event was memorable.


Blockchain hackathons need to be planned to work


A hackathon is an event that needs to be prepared and managed. It's not just the cost of location, food, staff, and equipment. You also need to provide a creative atmosphere and a proper methodology to ensure the teams' high productivity.

Moreover, the solutions from a hackathon are not always entirely usable, but if worked on better in a post-event, they can become applicable. Suppose the topic is not attractive enough to participants. In that case, expectations for the solutions are too high, or the prize pool is not good enough to attract good participants, a hackathon can become more attractive just for the change of culture of the institution.

Last but not least, to summarize, if you have a blockchain company you want to:


  • Cost reduction due to less supervision and reduction of intermediaries;

  • Time savings. Fast sprints to prototype solutions created in days against traditional R&D process that can take weeks

  • Built proof-of-concept blockchain pilots for your business 

  • Increased security by preventing fraud, manipulation, and cyber-attacks;

  • Increased efficiency, embracing digital transformation, over traditional systems

Now that you learn how hackathons can help blockchain companies, it's time to take the next step to engage with our community.

TAIKAI is a virtual hackathon platform that makes a virtual hackathon event much easier to host. You can count on us to take your company to the next level.

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