The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Hackathons
Hackathons are electric. People become fueled with the kind of excitement that can only be obtained by building something from scratch. Teams that begin as strangers find themselves holding hands and cheering together on the finale stage. The craziest ideas materialize from thin air into something real – and potentially profitable.
Hackathons may be popular in the startup scene, but with a few thoughtful tweaks, corporations can capitalize on hackathons in big ways, whether by solving a core business problem, filling their an innovation pipeline, changing how employees work internally or recruiting new talent.
Unfortunately, most corporate hackathons (>90%) generate negative ROI.
That’s pretty wasteful.
We hate waste. Large organizations hire us to remove the waste from their innovation process so they can discover, explore and launch new products faster and with fewer resources. One way we do this is designing and executing internal and external hackathons.
In fact, we’ve been planning hackathons for over 10 years, so when we see a poorly designed event with no results to show a month after it’s over, we cry a little inside.
We’d love to produce a world-class corporate hackathon that gets you the results you need, but some hackathons can and should be run in-house – so we wrote this guide for you. It’s packed full of tips and tools we use to run a corporate hackathon with external participants. Throughout it, we reference two events – Coca-Cola’s CoolerHack (designed to find a solution to a real unsolved internal business problem) and thyssenkrupp’s HoloHack (focused on recruiting developers with a specific skillset.)
If you’re going to do a hackathon, it’s worth doing it right. We hope this Quickstart Guide will help you extract as much value as possible from your event.
What is a hackathon?
Corporate hackathons are typically a 24-72 hour event in which 50-100 internal and/or external participants organize into small teams to develop and present solutions to a distinct business problem.
Notice distinct business problem. A hackathon is not an event for generating new business models. A hackathon in its true form should only be about one thing – building stuff. The question of whether or not something should be built is not typically tackled within the scope of a hackathon.
Hackathons assume that the customer and problem are known and validated.
If you’re exploring a new industry, a new market or trying to find new ways to innovate on your core products, you should consider a different approach. A great place to start (that still looks like an event) is one of our flagship 3-day events.
By allowing teams to assume that the problem they are solving for is known, real and validated, you allow them to focus on building impressive stuff.
The more specific the problem, the better. Many hackathons use a broad theme: “We just launched a technology – come build something with it!” or “The Future of FinTech Hackathon 2017 – anything goes!” While these events are fun and can garner good PR, they produce lower quality results.
Choosing a specific, real-world business challenge will attract participants who see the constraints as a gift. With a focused challenge your participants will be more experienced, they’ll approach the event with a deeper level of intention and the solutions will be more creative. The path to turning a hackathon project into something you can launch to create actual business value is more visible.
Here are examples of pre-validated/constrained problem statements that would work well for a hackathon:
- “We need a way to automatically sense an out-of-stock occurrence in a beverage cooler” (source)
- “Use our energy API to build an application which helps customers reduce their electric bill”
- “Nationally more than 20% of all potable water produced is lost and wasted during distribution – we need help to reduce the cost of detection and resolution.” (source)
Who should participate in a hackathon?
Most participants will need basic hands-on technical skills like programming, design and data analytics. Although participants don’t need to be experts, basic technical proficiency is necessary to get anything done in a short timeframe.
Hackathons are not the best option if technical innovation isn’t your goal. If you want to achieve social impact or community building you have better options.
What will you get from hosting a hackathon?
1. A new way of thinking
If your goal is to change the “we build everything internally” culture at your organization and demonstrate to leadership the value of working with external partners, try a hackathon.
New faces bring a fresh look to existing problems. Hackathons can demonstrate the value of working with partners, freelancers, agencies and vendors.
Host a hackathon if your company needs to think differently about a problem they have struggled to solve with traditional approaches.
An internal hackathon can uncover latent talent within your organization. The event allows your employees to get out of their daily role and flex their creative muscles.
2. Forge new (unexpected) internal teams
It can be hard to predict how well teams will work together. During a hackathon, employees get the chance to discover new effective teams.
3. Recruiting new talent
Hackathons are the ultimate interview. You don’t need to copy these GE commercials to fill key technical positions. Hackathons give you an opportunity to work directly with potential employees and see who is a good cultural fit.
4. Faster API adoption & feedback
New APIs are useless without 3rd-party developers and customers using them. Hackathons are a great way to educate the market about APIs.
Your API teams also get live feedback from developers using them – a great way to uncover problems or identify new features.
5. PR & Marketing
Hackathons are great PR and generate easy stories to tell.
“Local team wins tech contest”
“corporation sponsoring innovation”
“community becoming a regional tech leader.”
Real problems are hard. You’ll notice we didn’t list “innovative solutions” as part of the hackathon benefits. Real problems are hard and typically can’t be “solved” in a weekend. Most hackathon teams only finish ~25% of what they set out to accomplish.
Teams may generate potential ideas for new solutions but all will need more work. Most of the code written will be thrown away.
What could go wrong?
Actually, a lot. A colleague of ours attended a hackathon hosted in the basement of a building – no wifi or cell coverage. The participants left after the first hour. Yikes. Try explaining that to the sponsors…
While this is an extreme example, most corporate hackathons have preventable problems – poor attendance, teams without the right skills, irrelevant projects, late starts, not enough of coffee (gasp!), network failures…
But the biggest preventable problem starts at the beginning.
How to guarantee your hackathon will fail
If you simply plan on seeing what happens you will always succeed at seeing what happens because something is guaranteed to happen. – Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
Eric’s quote applies to any new project and hackathons are no exception. Unfortunately, most hackathons are failures because the organizers don’t set a metric for success. Too often we see corporate hackathons without a business goal – inevitably “something happens,” just not what anyone envisioned.
Don’t let your corporate hackathon fail before it starts.
Before asking colleagues to give up their valuable time to attend your event, ask yourself why you want to have a hackathon. What is your goal?
- To associate your brand with innovation?
- Attract talent to fill key technical roles?
- Get fresh eyes on a real business challenge?
- Get your ecosystem using a new API?
Our advice is to pick one reason and optimize your hackathon for it. Everything else is gravy.
Quantify your goal with a success metric.
We understand – you’re hesitant to set specific goals because you don’t have enough information. You don’t want to be held accountable for something out of your control.
But having a specific goal gives everyone the necessary focus to work towards a specific direction. We suggest making the goal a team sport so everyone buys into it.
Examples: Our goal is to …
… introduce hiring managers to 3 qualified candidates
… get 2 new products built on the API
… get a positive story in the business section in our local paper
Get leadership to buy into the goal so everyone has the same expectation.
Planning and Budgeting
How much does a hackathon cost?
$36,476.89. Wasn’t that easy?
Of course the real answer is … it depends. Since “it depends” is the world’s most unhelpful answer, here’s the ultimate hackathon budget template.
The template is self-explanatory but here is some guidance when customizing for your event.
Unless you’re using a space owned by your organization, we recommend you pay for a venue. You may be able to find a “free” venue, but in our experience, free venues have hidden costs in the form of hassles. When you pay – even a little – the dynamic changes and you are treated like a customer, not a friend.
Most venues don’t supply everything you need to pull-off a hackathon – be sure to factor in the additional cost of rentals. Use our venue checklist on page 10 to make sure all necessities are included in your budget.
You and your team will want to spend your time helping participants generate awesome products – not picking up pizza boxes. The venue should have liaisons available for normal event management. Make sure the venue fee includes any liaison or cleaning crew fees. Cleaning crews should come once after every meal, 3-5 bathroom refreshes per day, and do post-event cleaning.
It isn’t common – but bad things do happen at hackathons. Over the years we’ve encountered severe weather … natural disasters … thefts … fires … party crashers with curious intentions … sexual harassment incidents … fist fights between participants (yes, really) … and even street riots due to local political unrest.
Hope for the best, but have a team and a plan for the worst. If the venue does not provide security, consider hiring some extra help – especially if your event runs overnight.
Most professional venues will be able to support your A/V needs. If not, you can borrow, buy or rent.
A few other tips:
- If you have parallel events (e.g. an optional workshop on the agenda ) get additional A/V equipment and run them in a separate place so you don’t interrupt participants not watching the workshop.
- Bring extra HDMI and VGA adapters. They can disappear when presenters forget to unplug them from laptops.
- 3 wireless microphones are ideal. You’ll have backups and extras to use during judging and demos.
Quality T-shirts cost about $9/each when you order 100. Don’t go cheap on T-shirts – you want people wearing them like billboards to other events, not donating them to Goodwill. Be sure to purchase men’s and women’s t-shirt cuts.
The best prizes are relevant to the theme. For instance, the top prize at CoolerHack (a hardware hackathon) was a 3D printer and the top prize at HoloHack (a smart cities mixed-reality hackathon) was a Microsoft Hololens. Have enough prizes for at least 3 winning teams and 2 runner-ups. Most hackathons spend > $5k for prizes. If you spend < $3k you will be noticeably under market.
Although cash prizes can be okay, we don’t recommend them. The latest tech gadgets like GoPros, drones, 3D printers, game consoles and virtual reality headsets tend to be more motivating and exciting than cash. Give people stuff they wish they had but probably won’t buy with their hard earned money.
Here is a shopping list on Amazon based on 100 attendees.
These are particularly necessary for a hardware hackathon. Survey registrants a week in advance, ask them what they need, and then place an order on Mouser.com, Adafruit or Amazon for arduinos, wires, switches, sensors, etc.
At CoolerHack, we brought in beverage coolers, extra cooler shelving, 3D printers, soldering gun stations and raspberry pi kits. We took orders from teams for things like wire and sensors and made two runs to a supply store close to the venue.
Tell participants what will be on site and what they need to bring. Most hackathons ask participants to bring their own monitors and cables.
Nothing will bring your event to a crawl like slow internet. Get the venue to commit to an SLA of 50 MBs. Test it yourself at fast.com. If they can’t, you may need to get a few pre-paid hotspots from Verizon or AT&T.
Urge the participants to prepare their development environment before the event. Saturday morning isn’t the time to try and install a 10GB Xcode package.
“Real” hackers eat nothing but cold pizza and energy drinks, right?
Alas, no. At least not the people you want to meet (or recruit) at your event – they are considering offers from companies like Google and Facebook who have chefs on site.
We find that the perceived event quality is correlated with the quality of the food. Although most hackathons spend $7/meal, we suggest $15/meal. Quality food will keep participants from leaving for healthier options and get them to return the next day.
Ask for dietary preferences on the registration page and remember that dietary preferences vary based on religious holidays and geography. We always order at least 20% vegetarian meals and a few additional vegan plates.
Avoid if possible: chain pizza, stale bagels with boring plain cream cheese, salad bars, build-your-own burgers (sounds good but never looks good), cereal with milk, sub sandwiches.
The budget template includes ideas for each meal.
Remember – coaches and judges eat and drink too, so budget for them.
Spend your budget on food and skip the Super Bowl commercials – promo shouldn’t be a big budget item. Here’s a few ideas to save money in this department:
- Consider hiring a local community superconnector to help spread the word.
- Look for someone who runs a popular Meetup, for instance.
- Unless your in-house creative team is dying for a new project, just create your own logo. We’ve had good luck with Tailor Brands.
- Use our step-by-step promotional guide (starting on page 17) to tackle outreach yourself.
Hire a pro. Seeing lots of smart people with smiles will be great for PR, getting internal advocates and promoting future events.
Some hackathons cover (or partially cover) travel expenses for participants coming in from out of town. If you choose to offer this, a good guideline is to reimburse up to $200 per person. In our experience, roughly 10% of participants will take advantage of it.
A final note on budgets
You have many options for keeping costs down. We’ve worked with $100,000 budgets and $0 budgets. Play with your options on the spreadsheet, but be sure to keep your goals in mind and remember that you’re competing with other events for talent.
Not having strong attendance is a hackathon’s worst nightmare and it’s far more common than you’d think. Just imagine the smell from the tower of uneaten sandwiches.
thyssenkrupp’s HoloHack had tons of talent coming out of the woodwork. Here’s how we got the right people in the room.
Set both a registration and turnout goal (these are two separate goals!)
Set a goal that reflects your budget and the number of projects you want to see produced.
There will be teams of 5 or more and there will be teams of 1 or 2, but in our experience, the average team size at hackathons is 3. If you want to see 20 projects created, shoot for 60 participants.
Our rule of thumb is 100. At 100 participants, you’ll get the diversity of perspective, skill and experience required to produce novel and quality projects.
Above 200, your event format will need to change. Demos at the climax of the event will take too long. You may have to run separate tracks or brackets, add a virtual component, do 60-second rapid-fire demos, ban the use of slides or screens in demos, or cut demos altogether and consider a science fair-style judging process that might last an entire afternoon.
Below 50, your hackathon is unlikely to produce the project or recruiting outcomes you seek.
Account for no-shows & registration fees
If you aren’t charging a registration fee (which is our recommendation), it’s prudent to anticipate a 40-50% no-show rate. This has never failed to be true across the hundreds of no-fee events we’ve run over the years.
For HoloHack we aimed for 150 registrants, expecting 75 to show up. Our real numbers turned out to be 172 registered / 76 show – a 56% no-show rate. If we had capped registrations at 75, without accounting for attrition, 33 people would have showed up. The energy in the room and the quality of the outcomes would have been much lower.
Hackathons that charge a fee will typically have fewer registrations but a much higher turnout rate (~90%).
We strongly recommend making your hackathon free to attend and factoring in heavy attrition when setting a registration cap.
Stick to a promotional schedule
The earlier the better.
Start eight weeks out with the work front-loaded as much as possible. You’ll need to start promotions two months before your event to give promotional outlets enough time to get your hackathon on their calendars. Newspapers, blogs and community calendars need runway to initially hear from you, follow up and get your event in their queue. Turn around can take a month, which means your promotions will only run for four weeks prior to your event.
An example promotional schedule:
8 weeks out – Finalize all marketing copy, create social assets, and make your hit list
7 weeks out – Launch your event website and send initial email to hit list
6 weeks out – Post on social media groups, contact local Meetup organizers, and post on all relative event listing websites
3-5 weeks out – Keep an eye on email, Meetup, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and LinkedIn messaging to field inquiries
2 weeks out – Follow up with hit lists and ask for help with a final promotional push
1 week out – Send a reminder to registrants with the event information
2 days out – Send another reminder to registrants with the event information
Craft a compelling and concise message
You only need to create one or two killer paragraphs and a few bullet points to explain your hackathon. People won’t wade through dense copy when they are window shopping your event. Hackathon participants (being mostly engineers, developers and designers) tend to appreciate efficiency. Brevity is a form of efficiency. It’s music to their ears.
The things that people forget to include or botch in their outreach materials are mind-blowing – two different start times, no location or so many acronyms that the objective is incomprehensible. It is easy to fall into this trap when you are deep in planning duties.
Organize yourself and start with the necessities
- Logistics – Dates and Times, Location (if parking is tricky, provide instructions)
- Purpose – What is the problem to solve?
- Who should participate (be specific) – for example, Unity3D developers, hardware hackers, recent college grads interested in blockchain technologies
- Who is eligible – individuals, teams, companies, 21+
- What’s in it for them – prizes, opportunity to meet interesting people, get hired, meet a cofounder, win a contract
- Cost – especially highlight if free
- Provisions – food, snacks, drinks, booze
- Intellectual property – who owns what at the end. (Read our opinion on IP under the “NDAs, IP & licensing” on page 11)
- Project Requirements – must only use our data sets, coded in C#, etc.
From here you put the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle, ordering them in terms of importance and what’s most compelling. The winner gets a weekend on Richard Branson’s Island! Lead with that. People should know within 10 seconds if they are interested (the why) and available (the when and where). From there, lay the tangential benefits on thick, keeping in mind what hackers want (access, prizes and opportunity).
Create assets off of that copy
With your list of necessities on-hand, now it’s just cut and paste. Repurpose your marketing copy for all of your operations, promotions and public relations.
The assets you’ll need + examples:
1. Stump speech for your hosting page:
- All tweets, posts and emails need to lead somewhere. Keep it simple and let your event landing/registration page be ground zero.
- While some hackathons spend a lot of time and money creating a slick website and a custom registration process that employs a seemingly simple combination of tools like WordPress, MailChimp, Formstack, Stripe, Zapier, etc – this can quickly turnout to be more to manage than you expect. A simpler and more effective option is to use a hackathon management website. We recommend DevPost, which is free to use for in-person hackathons. DevPost provides promotion to their 500,000+ community of developers and offers features to help you streamline the event organizing process.
- Whatever you do, keep your copy simple, compelling and easy to understand.
2. A shorter, abbreviated version of your stump speech for listing websites and Meetup contacts.
Example from HoloHack:
3. An email that includes a social assets page and a photo/graphic:
- When emailing a hit list of potential promotional partners, make it easy for them by including a one-pager with assets that they can copy and paste from to promote your hackathon on their social channels and newsletters. Marketing people in the tech and startup world are busy – they’ll be much more willing to help if you make their job easy by supplying ready-to-go copy.
- Double check that your tweets and posts look good by testing them in their respective channels (supplying tweet copy that’s over on character count is a rookie mistake).
- Send the one-pager as a Word doc or Google doc, not as a PDF.
- Include a photo, logo or graphic for your event with this email.
- Use a service like Streak to do a mail-merge and add a personalized touch.
- Keep your email concise.
- Here’s an example email and one-pager that we sent to potential promotional partners for thyssenkrupp’s HoloHack:
Build your hit list
Create a master list of everyone you plan to ask to help spread the word about your hackathon to their audience. While there are a few mainstays – large technology associations, coworking spaces, community organizations and media outlets – most of your hit list should be specific to the location and exact participants you need to have at your hackathon.
Building a list and sending these messages can be time-consuming, so be thoughtful when deciding where to post and who to email. Be sure to prioritize tech talent – they are your participant base that produces the most tangible projects.
For the HoloHack example we’ve been following, the intended audience was Atlanta-based engineers, developers and designers with experience in gaming and augmented reality. More specifically, thyssenkrupp was looking for people with experience or currently studying both C# and Unity 3D.
Here’s the hit list we put together for HoloHack to find that target audience.
You’ll notice a “community partners” area on our hit list. We approached these organizations with the email and social assets above and offered to post their logo on the HoloHack DevPost page and mention their support on stage at the event if they were willing to include our event in their next email newsletter.
Hackathon listing sites
There is a group people that attend multiple hackathons per year. Some go for the prizes, some to build out their ideas and some to find new teammates or hires. Make sure your hackathon is findable by these hardcore hackathon athletes as they always bring talented people with them and sometimes even have a larger following.
List yourself online where they (and everyone with Google) can find you:
Put in face time
Go to meetups, demo days and networking events to spread the word in person. You can simply attend and rub a lot of elbows, or you can contact the event organizer and ask if there’s an opportunity to speak for a minute or so. Make a small ask, or they may request financial or in-kind sponsorship in exchange.
Going to events in person also gives you an opportunity to get feedback and observe reactions from your audience, something you won’t get a lot of if you’re only sitting behind a computer. Indeed, you may learn something important and change your event brief or structure (or date!)
Watch and adapt
Keep a watchful eye on your registration list. Are enough people signing up? Are you attracting the right kind of people? The earlier you can catch things going sideways, the more time you have to build a new hit list and/or send a last minute push (with revamped social assets that reflect the urgency of the upcoming registration deadline).
When setting up your hackathon’s registration form, be sure to ask a few key questions so you have the information you need to make these types of decisions.
An example registration questionnaire :
What is your expertise?*
Where do you work?
Are you a student?
Any dietary restrictions or preferences?
T-shirt size (XXL, XL, L, M, S, XS) and cut (Men’s, Women’s)
*expertise is the most important question here, so don’t remove it
It’s the day of your hackathon. You didn’t sleep well, lying in bed searching the back of your mind for that one thing you forgot to do. What could it be? Was it important?
No matter – you’re prepared. You’ve got your Run of Show document to guide you through it!
Download our Hackathon Run of Show Template:
When you arrive at the venue (we recommend 2 hours before the event), run through this checklist:
Call first food vendor to confirm delivery and setup times
Walkthrough with venue contact
Make sure wifi is working (check it with fast.com)
Make sure room is set up properly:
– tables for participants
– tables for food
– power strips
– extension cords
– trash cans
– bathrooms are unlocked and clean
Connect laptop to projector and put up a welcome slide
Set up registration table (waiver forms, name tags)
Set up supplies table
Set up equipment (3D printers, soldering stations, etc)
Put out directional signage if finding the room is not obvious
Play music. Try this playlist:
Facilitator Talking Points
In addition to making random announcements and keeping the event on schedule, the facilitator has two primary moments stage: The initial kickoff on day 1 and the start of the demos on day 2.
Here’s a script we generally follow when we facilitate a hackathon:
“Welcome to HACKALACKATHON! My name is Shane. I’ll be your emcee for the next 24 hours.
“Let me do a quick poll. Who here is an engineer or any type? Developer? Designer? Student?…
“Awesome – well we appreciate all of you giving us your time over the next 24 hours, even if it’s just for the free food. We’ve excited to see what you all come up with.
“Let’s jump right into it and talk about the event challenge:
– Introduce the business owner and ask them to explain the challenge and answer questions.
– Go over the rules. “These are the rules: There really are none! You can use code that you brought with you, you can have remote teammates working with, you can use any other devices and any open source libraries. Go crazy. Feel free to get creative. You can build weird stuff. You can build stuff that actually has a real-world application and helps people (and we hope you do). Either way, all intellectual property is yours.
“I know you’re all excited to get started. Let me go over the schedule and a few housekeeping items before you all go crazy. In a few moments when I’m done, the shot clock starts and you’ll have 24 hours before demo presentations, which are at 12:00 noon tomorrow. Lunch is waiting for you in the back of the room. Dinner tonight is at 6PM. You are free to stay in this space all night if you wish. Doors lock at 10PM so if you leave after that, you’ll need a buddy to let you back in.
“I know that most of you came with pre-formed teams. We’re going to do a quick idea pitch and team forming exercise over here for anyone who came solo and needs help hooking up on a team, otherwise, you’re free to figure that out on your own. Or come find me and I’ll help connect you to a team that is looking for talent.
“Let’s talk about judging criteria and demos tomorrow.
– “The judging criteria are…(explain the judging criteria you chose)
– “Demos tomorrow will be 3 minutes each, followed by 3 minutes of questions from the judges. We’re going to do it science-fair style, but on the mic. You will present at your workstations, but to the entire room on the microphone. The judges will walk from table to table. You are free to use any visuals you want but I suggest going light on the slides, if at all, and focusing more on demonstrating your solution.
– “After the demos, the judges will deliberate, pick some winners, hand out prizes and share which teams they’re interested in continuing to work with post event and how that will work.
“Tomorrow, breakfast is at 8:30AM. Lunch will be ready to eat at 11 so you can eat while watching the other presentations.
“Some other housekeeping items:
– “wifi password is on the screen
– “Restrooms are just down the hall to the right.
– “We have a table up here with heaps of supplies available for you.
– “We have a Slack channel going. Look for an invitation in your inbox.
– “There are two other organizers besides me in the room that you can ask for help – NAME and NAME.
– “We have three people from COMPANY here that you can tap for technical help. (list their names and expertise or have them introduce themselves)
– “Any questions at all?
– “Ok good luck, grab lunch, and have fun! The time starts now!”
For the start of the demos on day 2:
“Kick it off with energy. WOW! I’m so excited to start these demos. I’ve seen some really cool stuff over the last 24 hours.
“For those of you just joining to watch, let me explain what’s happened over the last 24 hours. We’ve got 120 people here. A mix of engineers, developers, designers, students – all here to solve the challenge: (recite the challenge).
“You’re about to hear 24 teams present what they’ve come up with. Teams will have 3 minutes to give a demo. Then the judges – who I’ll introduce in a moment – will have 3 minutes for questions. After demos, we’ll hand out some prizes and select which teams will have an opportunity to continue working with (COMPANY) after this event is over.
“Teams – the pitch order is on the screen and in the Slack channel.
Go over judging criteria
– Awesomeness (Wow factor. Did you build something no one thought was possible in the scope of a weekend? Did you use techniques that are abnormal, often impractical, and weirdly elegant?)
– Design (Is it easy to understand? Is it easy to use? Is it creative?)
– Functionality (Does it solve the challenge? Does it work?)
Prep the judges. Tell them not to judge these like a startup. You can certainly ask about what’s on your mind from a business perspective (like scalability), but please focus on design, functionality, creativity, and awesomeness. Ask questions, but also give feedback. Then tell the audience that they don’t have to answer something a judge says that doesn’t have a question mark at the end, just thank them for the feedback. “Use the time wisely, give succinct answers, and try to get as many questions asked from them as possible.
“First team, are you ready?
Make the Agenda Simple
People don’t come to hackathons to listen to people talk. Our approach to facilitation focuses on three things:
1. Creating excitement and injecting energy into the room
2. Relaying the essential information that teams need to know about the challenge and the resources available to them
3. Keeping it short so teams have more time to hack
Our recommended event agenda:
11:30 AM – Doors open
12:00 – Kickoff
12:30 – Start hacking. Lunch served.
1:00 – Optional workshop in a side room.
6:00 – Dinner served.
11:00+ – Stay and hack as late as you want.
8:30 AM – Breakfast served. Keep hacking.
11:30 – Lunch served.
12:00 – Demos.
2:00 – Winners announced
3:00 – End
To understand the smaller (but just as important) details that happen during the rest of the event, refer back to the Hackathon Run of Show Template.
Hopefully, this Quickstart Kit serves you well if you’re running a hackathon on your own. Of course you won’t follow it perfectly. We certainly never do. Each event is unique. Pick and choose the things that work for you and adapt the rest.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or worried that you’re designing something the wrong way, feel free to email me or call me – my direct contact information is below. I’m happy to help think through those decisions to make sure you get the outcomes you need.
This guide walked you through an example of a hackathon with 100% external participants. If you’re thinking of running a hackathon for your employees or with a mix of internal/external attendees, many of the dynamics in this guide will need to be changed. Again, feel free to reach out to me directly to get my take.
If you’re looking for a partner to help design and run your hackathon, we’d love work with you! We can handle every aspect from the beginning or step in to save your current hackathon that is starting to go sideways.
Learn more at yourideasareterrible.com/hackathons.
Thanks for reading!
Is there anything we didn’t cover you’d like to see in the next version? Let us know! We plan to treat this handbook as a living document, changing as quickly as industry best practices do.