What is the reality of a hackathon?

Published on 23 July 2019

Reading time 4 minutes

Four times a year, our Wilders go through 24 to 48 hours relentless work, they code day and night to present their project after one or two sleepless nights: this is a hackathon.

What is a hackathon?

To understand what's a hackathon, the best thing to do is to decompose the word "hackathon":

  • to hack: test, code or even "pirate", however, here it is not at all the objective of this exercise
  • athon: doesn't this remind you of another word? Like “marathon”, Ouch! That might be intense...

So, the hackathon consists of finding solutions to a given problem in a short timeframe and in teams.

Topics can be invented by our trainers but, most of the time, partner companies nominate missions responding to actual problems they are facing in their business activities. For instance, on Orléans' campus in France, we've had the opportunity to work on the following missions:

  • Protomotech (a company that installs sensors to verify storage conditions and the good conservation of works of art in museums) asked our Wilders to imagine what other potential use they could find for those sensors.
  • The operational unit of the Lab’o (business incubator for the new digital era) asked the students to create a tool allowing for monitoring and following up on new connections made during their events.
  • A subsidiary of Déméco (a company allowing you to plan your house move online) needed a tool to facilitate the quotations creation (choosing number of furniture per rorm, number of rooms, etc...).

Pedagogically speaking, what's the effect?

The goal for such an intense work session is not just to measure the length of the bags under our Wilders' eyes on the last day. It allows to strengthen the group, teach them to work efficiently and as a team in a short timeframe, learn new techniques in a hurry, push their limits, and experiment extreme conditions to prepare for real work environment.

This is a rich experience to be added in a CV and mentioned during an interview. 

It can also be a great opportunity to find a job or an internship at the partner's company if they appreciate our work during the hackathon.

So in reality, how does a hackathon go?

I'm just going to take you through our latest hackathon to make sure you get a good look at how it goes ;)

It happened on our campus here in Orléans (France) on the 26th, 27th and 28th of June.

For this hackathon, our Wilders worked for Thelem insurance company and a problem that the company is facing in real life.

Here goes the hackathon:

Wednesday 2pm: Hackathon opening

Our partner Thelem insurance is launching a new insurance product with an offer in cashback developed for a young public:

The mission given to our Wilders is to create an informative website about this new product that would explain the cashback system in a playful way.

I'll tell you what was the project developped by the winners at the end ;)

During the afternoon, the teams get familiar with their mission, they question our partners to better understand what are the strategic challenges linked to this activity, they discuss, etc...

At 5pm, fresh fruits delivery...

Wednesday 7pm: dinner time

As soon as the pizzas get there, the Wilders get their dinner box and go back to work. The school is starting to look like a camping place... 


Wednesday 10pm: time to rest

On the first evening, we usually ask the students to go home and rest so that they are not exhausted on day 2.


Thursday 9am: breakfast is ready!

Croissants, pain au chocolat and coffee for everyone. Here we go again, 24 hours of non-stop coding left...

hackathon wild code school orleans croissants

Thursday 2pm: our partners are back in school

The partner company comes back to answer more questions and help the teams to move forward on their projects knowing they are going the right direction.


Thursday 6pm: projects are coming to life


The school, on the other side, not so much


Thursday 7pm: dinner delivery and first yawning


During the night

Karaoke, games, code, naps…


Friday morning

31 zombies enjoying a generous breakfast (fruits, pastries, juice, coffee…) 

Students are getting ready to present their project in the afternon.

Friday 2pm: Projects presentation

In front of a public of Alumni and future Wilders, and of course our partners, the first concerned about the solutions.



Award ceremony

People's choice award


2nd position


And the winners are...

Nawal Zakarya , Damien Rambourg , Sylvain Aubert , Vincent Mouline and Sylvain Lamoureux.

Congratulations to them!

They designed a game called “Monopolio”. 

After creating his avatar, the web user is moving forward on a board game. During his path, more are less dramatic misadventures are happening to him (the hazards of life). Everytime something happens to him, he can see his cashback account value changing. A playful way to approach insurance that our partner really appreciated. 


See you at our next hackathon!