A goal is a Dream with a Deadline – Napolean Hill
Are you prepared to organize your first hackathon? These collaborative events can serve as a springboard for novel technological solutions. When great minds come together, the creative energy that fills the air is truly life-changing!
Use the hackathon ideas below to ensure your first hackathon goes off without a hitch.
Before we start, what exactly is a hackathon?
Before you set a date for your first hackathon, you should first learn about these events. A hackathon is essentially a multi-day event where technological wizards—including programmers, designers, and everyone in between—come together. They form groups and collaborate on a specific idea or problem; they start from scratch to find new solutions.
If you have any doubts about hackathons’ effectiveness, consider that hackathons were responsible for the companies on the left.
1. Choose the location: Online, Offline, or Hybrid?
A good location is critical for hosting a successful hackathon. Ideally, the venue should have a large open space where all participants can congregate for the kickoff ceremony at the start of the event and the prize ceremony at the end. There should also be some breakout rooms where teams can isolate themselves and focus their efforts.
Consider where your participants will be arriving and the parking situation near your chosen venue. You don’t want people to be inconvenienced while attending your hackathon.
2. Market your event like Elon Musk and Web Summit had a baby.
Hosting a hackathon can be costly, so look for local businesses and investors who might be interested in sponsoring your event. Government agencies and software developers may also be willing to help. Those who do not make direct monetary contributions to your startup may become in-kind sponsors, providing services such as volunteers, food, or equipment.
You must also attract participants and entice them to attend your hackathon. Create a website for your event and include an easy-to-use sign-up form. Make certain that your website clearly explains things like when and where the hackathon will take place, who is invited, and what special prizes you may be offering.
If you want to get a certain % of developers, designers, or business people then try to market directly to the category that is the slowest by looking for partners who can sell the tickets to their staff. On Eventbrite you can limit the amount of tickets that you want to sell per category.
Take a look at the marketing below for the Ad Conference 2022, snippets from the top technology companies promoting how great the event is.
3. Make sure there are credible judges in the room.
You should be able to clearly define the goals of your hackathon. This will not only help you market your event, but it will also assist you in establishing the rules and establishing judging criteria. Participants should be aware of what you and the judges will be looking for in order to select a winner. Some criteria to consider are as follows:
- Innovation. How original is the solution? Is it an example of thinking outside the box?
- Technical accomplishment. What technological challenges did you have to overcome in order to create this product?
- Application. How much of an impact will the solution have?
The number of judges you have will depend on the size of your hackathon, but three or five is a good starting point. Invite people from outside your company to serve on the judging panel; they could be from a sponsoring company or a local government office. Give the judges specific instructions, and make sure they arrive at the event at least half an hour before the judging begins so you can show them the ropes.
4. Don’t let anyone get Ha-ngry!
Hacking requires a lot of brainpower, and your competitors are bound to get hungry. Don’t limit yourself to light snacks; order more than you think you’ll need. You don’t want your participants to say you were cheap!
Breakfast options could include bagels and cream cheese, fruit, and yogurt. This type of food is convenient and quick to prepare. Lunch could include a sandwich bar, chicken, salad, pizza, or other popular foods. Dinner foods can be similar to lunch foods. When creating sign-up forms for your event, inquire about any dietary restrictions. You’ll ensure that no one goes hungry if you keep a small selection of gluten-free and dairy-free foods on hand.
5. Be certain you have the necessary equipment.
Your venue may provide some of the equipment you require, but you must still be prepared to bring some of your own. Here is a list of items you may need to collect:
- Don’t forget a projector. This could be used during the kickoff and award ceremonies.
- Tables and chairs are provided. Everyone requires a comfortable seat!
- Strips of power: There should be at least as many plug-ins as chairs at each table. Keep in mind that some participants may bring more than one device to plug in.
- Additional bandwidth. Bring extra routers, and make sure your ISP is aware that you will require a lot of power on the day of your hackathon. A reliable internet connection can either make or break your event.
- Backup cables and USB drives: Having extra odds and ends can add that special touch to your hackathon that will entice participants to return for your next event.
If your hackathon will last longer than 24 hours, you will need to consider even more factors. You should provide a dark, quiet room for participants to nap for a few hours.
6. Plan your setup, it matters to stay ahead.
Ensure that you will have access to your venue the night before the hackathon begins. You may need to set up tables and chairs, but you will almost certainly need to set up signage. Participants should be able to easily locate the various areas of the venue, whether it’s the restroom, the common room, or the private workspaces. The signs should also include information on how to connect to the event’s Wi-Fi.
You might also want to put up some signs with the event schedule on them. The schedule should specify when meals are served, when the kickoff and prize ceremonies take place, when team demos begin, when judging begins, and so on.
Name tags should also be prepared for anyone who will be working at the event. This will make it easier for participants to know who they can turn to for help. You could even order T-shirts for the event volunteers to add a personal touch.
Begin planning your hackathon at least three to six weeks ahead of time. This will give you the time you need not only to plan the event, but also to prepare your presentations, create buzz, and overcome any obstacles that may arise.
7. Hire extra hands for the event
Assign some volunteers or part-time freelancers to roam among the teams and answer any questions they may have. Also, make sure you have backup plans in place in case something goes wrong. For example, if your Wi-Fi goes down, you could have ethernet connections as a backup. Allow for some wiggle room in the schedule in case things fall behind schedule.
8. Post-event follow-ups
A hackathon takes careful planning, but the effort is well worth it. You can ensure that your event is the talk of the tech community by selecting the right venue, marketing the event, ensuring you have the necessary food and equipment, and giving yourself plenty of time to prepare.
and last, but not least….