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HACK DAYS: Helping Organizations to Leverage Customized Hackathon Events to Drive Actionable Innovation

Myles Tehan, MD & Co-Founder

Hackathons, also known in the IT community as Hack Days, Code fests or Hack fests are increasingly being used as a way for businesses or organizations to explore different ways of approaching a specific theme, challenge or opportunity. Software development companies have embraced these events for many years, how ever, they are now being adopted by organizations across all sectors as a way to foster and encourage disruptive thinking. Hackathons are noted for introducing innovative stuff that has been widely adopted, for example the Facebook Like Button was conceived at an internal hackathon. Hack Days Australia has forged a strong reputation for delivering successful ‘high impact’ innovation events.

Established in 2014, Hack Days was founded by Myles Tehan and Anthony Gerrits who met whilst working for the REA Group. Their mission was to work closely with clients to unlock creative thinking, solve complex problems and promote technology by leveraging the power of hackathons with a focus on ‘real’ opportunities or challenges that are relevant to the organization.

Since it’s inception, Hack Days has delivered many events for both technical and non-technical teams to promote the benefits of creative collaboration, lean thinking and rapid prototyping. Myles Tehan, MD and Co-Founder of Hack Days, says, “A carefully crafted innovation event will draw out creative thinking from staff across an organization by bringing together a diverse melting pot of skills and experience”.

Hack Days works closely with its clients to bring ‘actionable’ innovation to life by delivering unique hackathon events that are customized to meet the specific needs of their organization and staff. Each engagement typically follows a three-phased approach of Discovery, Design and Delivery to ensure that the event objectives are clearly articulated before crafting a theme and supporting format that will deliver the best results for a client.

A typical Hack Days event will run across 2-2.5 days and usually incorporates a series of focused activities during a 6-8 week lead up period. The company is very experienced at running inception workshops to draw out potential challenges and opportunities linked to specific themes.
This is normally followed by an ‘ideation’ period where participants are encouraged to share and build on potential ideas using a number of powerful on-line tools. Education workshops can also be incorporated to help promote the event to potential participants that are not familiar with the hackathon framework. For external events, Hack Days can support clients with public relations activities and strategic advice on how to engage with local technology groups and partners. It can also assist with other logistics such as sourcing venues, catering, photographers, video graphers etc.

“A carefully crafted innovation event will draw out creative thinking from staff across an organization by bringing together a diverse melting pot of skills and experience”.

Hack Days’ experience has been that successful innovation events are heavily dependent on meticulous planning to ensure that each and every event meets the clients’ objectives. A unique proposition that provides a key point of difference for its clients is the ability for Hack Days to source experienced external coaches and mentors (including developers, designers, data specialists, digital experts and lean practitioners) from the Australian start-up and freelancer community.

Over the course of the last two years, Hack Days has worked with clients such as Telstra, Australia Post Group, Southern Cross Austereo, Lander & Rogers and GMHBA. As demand for its services continues to grow, the company has chartered a plan to broaden its operational model to scale with the Australian market. It also has future plans to expand its presence into the APAC region over a period of 12 - 18 months. “We are actively seeking partnerships with technology businesses that may be interested in using a tailored hackathon framework as a way to help their clients/customers kick deliver actionable innovation,” concludes Myles.