Written by Brandon Yu | 3 min read

It’s no surprise that Generative AI is the frontier of limitless possibilities. There’s hundreds of functional applications: an AI model that is improving image quality in video streaming to allow autonomous vehicles to identify road hazards in real time (MIT). A real-time fall prevention and detection system for older adults’ (Kami Vision). Or ChatGPT Enterprise, a new chatbot specifically designed for businesses and enterprises (OpenAI).

AI is dramatically improving the way we execute on ideas and go from ideation to delivery. But with its increasing capabilities, the core human elements are going to be even more important than ever before. Certain things like empathy, clarifying user prompts, and appropriate regulations are essential roles for humans to interface with AI in.

This means that there is a higher emphasis on how users interact, engage, and utilize AI in order to harvest GenAI’s full potential, but to also ensure that it’s done in the right way. So, the question becomes: what’s the best way for users to learn about GenAI?

We’re strong advocates for learning through building - and that’s exactly what a hackathon can do for you and your business.

This AI-generated image was created by DALL-E with the prompt "Happy people taking part in an AI hackathon in a large room. There is a very futuristic look and feel"

The functional benefits of a hackathon

A hackathon is an intensive, often time-bound event where individuals or teams collaborate to solve specific problems or create innovative solutions, usually through coding and software development. 

A hackathon is a centralized, collaborative environment where employees come together with their diverse backgrounds and skill sets. There’s a cross pollination of ideas resulting in innovative approaches and solutions that would not be possible in homogeneous teams. A hackathon is a chance for employees to step away from their day jobs and siloed departments and engage with their peers across the organization, and across the world. The time pressure and competition breeds a highly productive and engaging environment.

A hackathon is a great place to have dynamic, cross-functional expertise from your organization and externally - all in the same place.

A hackathon promises hands-on practical learning, where the hackers have a unique opportunity to translate theoretical ideas into physical proof of concepts (POCs) which have real business potential. A skilled hackathon organizer pre-validates problem statements, allowing participants to focus solely on building proven challenges.

With increasing studies that practical application reinforces learning, a hackathon embodies this practice to its core (Harvard). We’re now seeing that hackathons are rapidly becoming a learning method of choice for a variety of organizations (Training Industry).

Hackathons enable the rapid build of solutions to validated problems at speed and scale.

A hackathon is an investment into your business growth. It’s not just the practical business solutions that can be built for your real business challenges. It’s engagement with the broader topic community - bringing in collaborators, external partners and vendors, as well as other industry professionals to get fresh new perspectives to your business. It’s an incredible way to reduce tunnel vision or groupthink within the organization, while learning from leading thought and industry leaders on their topic.

Learn about GenAI through Hackathon’s

Our natural tendency as founders and investors is to learn by building. It was the same case with the rise of GenAI. With the release of ChatGPT, our team immediately went to building things as a means of learning.

We attended 1000+ person hackathons (eg. Ben’s Bites’ AI Hackathon) to see what GenAI use cases businesses, contractors, and students were coming up with. We’ve also experimented by building our own AI workflows and AI-powered bots, such as a GenAI content automation Slack bot that resulted from our CEO’s 8-hr deep dive into figuring out how to publicize the deep learnings we have within our company’s Slack.

GenAI hackathons make the AI use cases real - it’s a space to demonstrate the real utility of these AI use cases for validated business challenges, all at speed and scale.

Onova Co-founder, Victor Li sharing Tempo to 100+ participants at Google x Capgemini's generative AI hackathon

Recently, we just built a personal shopping assistant named RachelAI for our e-commerce brand, Inoki Bathhouse, that enables customers to receive fully personalized product recommendations based on their personal preferences.

The pace of Generative AI is rapidly expanding and evolving - there is new infrastructure and platforms being built every single week. Hosting and joining these hackathons are the best way to stay ahead of the curve and up to speed.

Onova recently wrapped up GenAI Hackathon 2023, a Generative AI hackathon in collaboration with Capgemini and Google. 1000+ registrants were able to participate in this fully virtual hackathon, building 52 successful GenAI solutions that are currently being vetted by industry experts and business leaders at Capgemini.

The benefits of working with a hackathon provider like Onova

For any major event like a hackathon, you want to deliver the best experience to all of your participants and attendees. Experienced hackathon organizers can make a substantial difference in the hacker and participant experience.

You want to be working with a trustworthy, innovation partner who has a pulse on all aspects of hackathon facilitation - from hackathon software to technology partnerships to MVP incubation. This ensures a successful event - both in terms of the productivity of the solutions, as well as the participant experience.

That’s what we at Onova specialize in.

The hackathon experience relies heavily on trusted innovation partners who understands what it takes to put on the world’s best hackathons.

We have been deploying successful hackathons for major Fortune 500s, including McDonald’s, the Bank of Montreal (BMO), and HSBC. We specialize in curating productive and memorable hackathon experiences, developing tangible, impactful solutions for real world business challenges, and enabling innovation cultures that last.

Hackathons are a great way of creating a central, collaborative environment where hundreds of practical business use cases can be developed while upskilling employees in emerging technologies, such as generative AI.

Interested in seeing how we can support you and your business in your innovation initiatives? Book an introductory call with Victor Li, Founder & CEO of Onova.
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