Updated: Sep 30
It's really a breathtaking experience to organise a hackathon that bring together creative minds who are eager to come up with innovative solutions to solve real-life problems.
From ideation to execution, a successful hackathon requires careful planning and execution. One need to create an environment that fosters creativity and teamwork.
Whether you are a first time organiser or a seasoned organiser you need to keep few things in mind while planning a hackathon, that includes setting clear goals, arranging a nice venue, recruiting participants, and also taking care of sponsorships.
In this blog post, we will explore some important tips and strategies to organise an awesome hackathon which also motivate participants to build something innovative.
Setting your goals for hackathon:
Before organising any hackathon, you need to set a very clear goal. Like for what purpose are you organising this event, is this to attract new ideas and minds or it is to promote any product or technology.
Also, it is important to setting up the challenges, that is what problems you want your participants to solve or what kind of innovation you want them to create.
To increase the prospect of achieving end goal it is good thing to encourage collaboration. It can be done by creating teams beforehand with various activities or by providing a platform to network and connect participants with each other.
You need to take care of all the necessary resources participants need from having access to APIs and data sets to mentor who can help them with several tech or business issues.
Choose a theme for hackathon:
When we chose a clear theme for hackathon it can be more engaging and interesting. It will not let you achieve end goals more structurally but also help participants to focus on ideas related to particular industry or technology and hence coming up with innovative solutions.
And, to chose the right theme for hackathon think about the interests and skills of your target audience. Theme need to be appealing and motivating to attract participants.
Theme can be anything from healthcare to finance to education industry. You just need to take care that it solves real life problems.
Or it can be chosen on the basis of ongoing trends like Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain.
Don't be afraid to chose theme that is unique or irregular but just remember that it's not too broad or too complex and can be done in given timeframe and is feasible for participants.
Unique theme will let your participants think out of the box and hence will foster the creativity and innovation among them.
Pick the right venuefor hackathon:
For a successful event it is very important to have a right venue that can accommodate all our resources from all participants to furniture including tables, chairs, power outlets etc and hence should be spacious enough.
So that we can also accommodate various activities such as room for hacking, meetings, relaxation, food and networking.
Because a hackathon can be intense, but it's important to create a fun and supportive atmosphere.
Take care of the things like high-speed internet connectivity so that participants shouldn't face any difficulty in accessing online resources and collaborating.
Also, try that the venue you chose is easily accessible by public transportation and have parking facility so that participants can reach the venue on time.
Look for a location that offers good value for money and ensure that you book in advance and for the right dates.
You should also look for sponsorships or partnership to reduce the cost of venue.
Find right partners and sponsors:
Once you have clear vision about goals of the hackathons, your target audience, theme of the hackathon and what are your expectations for budget, you may start identifying potential partners and sponsors.
Make a list of all the potential partners and once your list is ready reach out to them with personalised professional emails or messages.
Be very specific about what you want and what you offer in return.
It's a great idea to have a formal and clear presentation depicting the benefits of partnering with you. Create sponsorship packages that offer different benefits that will help potential sponsors to chose the best fit for them.
Rather than just the exposure, try to offer them value like in terms of brand awareness/promotion and other tangible benefits.
Also, research for non-profit companies, organisations etc. in your industry that share your values and interests and are ready to sponsor or partner with you.
At end, make sure to follow with potential sponsors and partners regularly to let know if they are still interested or not.
Recruit mentors and judges:
We may get started by creating online applications process for recruiting mentors and judges, this is a great way to know about their background, their skills and expertise so that they can support the participants in the best possible way.
We can reach out to them simply by spreading a word in our professional networks, social media, industry groups etc.
After selecting mentors and judges without any bias, make sure to train and support them to help them understand their roles and responsibilities so that they can provide participants right feedbacks.
Ensure some incentives for them, it can be anything like networking opportunities, recognition, or anything else rewarding for them.
Offer prize and incentives:
To attract and motivate your target audience, it is good decision to offer prizes and incentives to them for such competitive event.
It can be anything for cash prize to gadgets to job opportunities based on your budget.
We need to set a transparent judging criteria that clearly mentions the process of selecting out the winners. This will make process and fair and neutral and also will help participants understand what they are expected to showcase.
It's better to categorise the prizes, like best design, best pitch presentation, best solution, best innovative idea etc.
Also, its good to award whole team rather than individual participants to encourage teamwork and collaboration and participants staying active throughout the event.
Promote the prizes and incentives clearly and on regular intervals to keep participants motivated and excited for the event.