Hackathons as a platform for creating start-ups: Evidence from THE Port
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Abstract. This thesis researches why hackathons can be characterised as a ground for creating start-up companies, as well as what start-up teams emerging from hackathons have in common. A hackathon is a time-limited event where inter-disciplinary teams are put together to collaborate intensively on a specific idea or challenge, aiming to have a functional prototype by the end of the event. The purpose is to provide hackathon organisers and participants with insights on how to encourage, facilitate, and foster business creation within the framework of a hackathon. As small and medium sized enterprises employ more than 60 percent of the workforce in most countries, business creation is a crucial contributor to job and wealth creation all over the world. The subject is approached through an exploratory single case study of THE Port Hackathon 2014. Five representatives from three teams were interviewed, as well as representatives from the organising team behind the hackathon. In addition, the author took part in THE Port Hackathon 2015 as a coach. The findings suggest that the teams from the hackathon chose to move on with their ideas because they seek to use their past experience and knowledge in a more long term business setting than the research and science community currently offers. They have been encouraged by a role model to pursue their business concept, and they have a flat hierarchical structure within the business. Through the hackathon, they have been given access to valuable networks, both internal and external. All the teams were able to produce a prototype during the hackathon. These prototypes are still the skeletons of their products today. For the organisers of future hackathons, the author suggests to expand their external networks to include actors that provide business support for the teams when the hackathon is over. They should also encourage participants to involve industry actors during the hackathon in order to meet their wishes and requirements. To strengthen the findings, more extensive research is needed by following more teams in more hackathons, preferably over a longer period of time.