The next boy band? Nah, just Twilio's Rob Spectre posing with some of the PennApps 2012s winners.

At 11:25 last night, the PennApps team sent an email to everyone on their mailing list. “Registration is now open!” they said. PennApps is the largest student-run hackathon in the country, so they expected some interest. But they didn’t anticipate what happened next.

By midnight, all 100 of the “visiting hacker” tickets were gone. There were still some tickets available for Penn students, but all of the open tickets had been sold already. (In case you were wondering, Justin Bieber’s North American tour sold out in an hour.)

Fortunately, the good people of PennApps noticed this this, and added another 100 tickets. But they went fast, too. As I write this, all of those tickets are gone, too.

In other words, 200 tickets to a hackathon sold out overnight. And that’s not even counting the 150 tickets that have also been claimed by Penn students.

Hackathons are becoming serious business. I don’t know much about recruiting or marketing, I’m pretty sure about this: If you’re a company with a recruiting/marketing budget, and you’re not sponsoring any hackathons, you’re doing it wrong. Hackathons are a prime opportunity to recruit interns because not only do you get meet hundreds of passionate computer science students, but you also get to see their work in action.

Additionally, hackathons are a chance to turn students into ambassadors for your brand. For instance, in part because Twilio sponsored PennApps last time, I worked on a Twilio-powered hack in January. I continued working with their API at other hackathons, some of which Twilio didn’t sponsor. Along the way, I told other hackers just how awesome Twilio’s API was; some of them then decided to starting using it too. But if Twilio hadn’t sponsored PennApps, I probably wouldn’t have even known about the company.

So jump on the hackathon bandwagon while you can. With interest like this, it won’t be long before hackathon organizers start limiting their sponsors, too. (PennApps already does, at the highest-tier levels.)

At least PennApps sold out more slowly than One Direction.

I’m Tess Rinearson, a sophomore computer science student at Carnegie Mellon and a PennApps veteran. If you liked this post–or I’ll see you at PennApps!–you should follow me on Twitter



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