Traditionally, large companies did innovation in-house and tried to keep startups and hackers outside. Nowadays however corporates realize they need to work with smaller parties to innovate and are opening up. The latest companies to do so are two airports: Schiphol Amsterdam and Paris-Charles de Gaulle are inviting hackers from all over the world to join their hack-and-fly hackathon in the weekend from June 5th until June 7th.
Hackathons, like Startup Weekends, are short events where ad-hoc teams are supported to build a new product in one weekend. Ideas are generated and possibly teams are formed on Friday evening. Friday-night and the whole Saturday teams work on building a working product demo and on Sunday they present their demo to the group and jury.
Hackathons and Startup Weekends can help startup founders to meet each other and work on new ideas (the Owlin team is frequently present at Hackathons) and it also allows data startups to show how their data can be used. It is good to see that more and more Dutch corporates support hackathons, not only with food and drinks but also by opening up their data and systems. This way startups can experiment with data that they would otherwise not have. At the same time a hackathon, like a Startup Weekend, is just the start of a marathon: it takes months and years, not days, to build a company.
The Netherlands has a small tradition of corporates sponsoring Hackathons: previously we covered a Utrecht Inc/ Rabobank FinTech hackathon, the Dutch Open Hackathon including Philips and Bol.com and the Eneco TOON Hackathon.
The latest Hackathon to be organized early June 2015 is the Hack-and-Fly hackathon. It is a single event on two locations: Paris and Amsterdam airports. The organisation hopes that teams will work on themes like queuing/waiting, transportation, smart airport, premium services and social connections. The winners of the Hackathon are invited to immediately board for a week trip to San Francisco.
Prizes aside, what makes the hackathon interesting is that airports are customer-free companies. The airports themselves do not sell any tickets, fly any routes or offer any foods to travellers. All contact they have with their users is through the retailers and airlines that rent their space, and they have no ambition to compete with their customers as this does not improve their customer relations. Coming up with innovative ideas for such a customer-free company is thus a real challenge, so it is understandable that they need the help from the hacker and startup community. Hopefully some new ideas will emerge that can make Schiphol a nicer place for all travellers.
More information can be founded on http://www.hackandfly.com or people can sign up directly here.
Photo by Pieter van Marion (creative commons via Flickr)