Guide to Hosting a Successful Hackathon with the Right Software

Guide to Hosting a Successful Hackathon with the Right Software

Written by Alison Lurie, In software, Published On
February 16, 2023

Hosting a hackathon event can vary depending on your goal and theme, but its success rate can be tricky. With that said, you already know the first step in running a hackathon – defining your objective. You’ll reap great results if you establish an effective hackathon management system from the beginning.

Broadly speaking, a hackathon is a form of collaborative learning, whether you are a host or participant. From here, you can assess if generating ideas from a group can improve and diversify your end goal.

Luckily, you can utilize advanced capabilities to run your hackathon digitally! Bring your innovative ideas to life using the best hackathon software that works.

Here are the important things you need to learn before hosting your hackathon.

What is a Hackathon?

Derived from the words “hack” and “marathon,” a hackathon is an event where people gather to achieve a shared goal. This could be to solve a problem, create a product or service, or brainstorm ideas.

Collectively, hackathons, also known as “code fests,” are efficient in promoting team engagement and creativity. More often than not, these can span 24 hours of brainstorming sessions. While it happens that one-day events can become unhealthy due to their competitive nature, there’s a 25-50% success rate if done right.

The following are a few things you need to remember before hosting a hackathon:

  • Build a strong community of teams with a shared goal
  • Be welcoming to new members
  • Provide equal opportunity for every member to present ideas
  • Be open to suggestions and your team’s interests
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Once you have these broad terms established, you and your team of innovators are off to a good start!

How to Plan a Successful Hackathon

Keep in mind that a hackathon goes through different processes, including the trial and error phase. Like almost all things in life, real problems are hard to solve! However, using powerful hackathon management software can make the process not only easier but also more organized.

You can start by making a hackathon planner that has a step-by-step guide for promising results. Below are some of the common things you must remember to host a successful hackathon.

  • Set an Objective

The reason you are hosting a hackathon event in the first place is to achieve a certain goal. Whether it’s to develop a new or existing product, decide on an end goal so your team can develop a flow that addresses the problem.

One of your responsibilities is to manage your focus toward something relevant but not constrained to one concept or prototype. To achieve this, add an element of diversity to your team with just the right mix of skills. It would be efficient to restrict access to a specific demographic group or proficiency level accordingly.

A hackathon platform that allows you to find participants by skill and experience will be your edge. Next is to set certain rules the members should be aware of, including the available resources and time allotment. For hackathons with geographically dispersed participants, use hackathon software that can disseminate insights regardless of location!

Lastly, maximize time by informing your team in advance of the scope of ideas so they have enough time to prepare.

  • Communicate What Needs To Be Done

Gather your team and communicate your expectations by the end of the hackathon. Before anything else, provide them with their needs to function well, such as food, water, and refreshments. Set them up in a comfortable space and provide perks, if possible, to increase engagement and productivity.

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Moreover, set a schedule and venue that suit everyone if you want a smooth-flowing hackathon. A hackathon management platform with a customizable microsite can set this up easily.

Afterwards, communicate to your team the deliverables and what qualifies for completion. It can be to improve a product or deliver a model, prototype, or pitch video. This stage includes disclosing the evaluation process and assessment criteria, as well as the panels for judging.

Finally, inform your team about the type of prizes, special awards, and a number of winners.

  • Broadcast the Event

Get your people buzzing by broadcasting the upcoming hackathon through various platforms! Making your event known boosts engagement and interest among target participants.

You can post it on your company intranet and channel, send out emails, or create a document with broad terms. You can also create an event page to attract interested participants, but ensure to make it engaging!

Don’t overdo or over-saturate ideas during this phase, so your participants will have more room for exploration (and to take risks!). Draw a line between what arouses excitement and boredom.

  • Run Your Hackathon

The day has arrived for you to run your hackathon “where the magic happens.”Your team came prepared and equipped with the rules and updates on the event. They are now collaboratively performing their roles and making substantial progress.

Your team is now aware of the time and scope they have to dedicate to a project. Nothing can stop them from bringing out innovative ideas and delivering what is expected. The success rate is higher when they are provided with a suitable physical space, as promised!

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Ensure an unbiased judging process and give recognition to whom it is due. Promoting a cultural shift within the team is the icing on the cake, bringing value and creativity to your team.

It’s a Wrap!

You should know by now that a hackathon is not the destination. It is merely part of a journey toward achieving a purpose.

All things considered, set realistic expectations instead of putting unnecessary pressure on your team. Chances are, your hackathon will be a success or a lesson. Nonetheless, make sure you take notes on what went right and wrong.

Repeat what seemed systematic and steer clear of what needs to be avoided the next time you host a hackathon. Share the takeaway and experiences with your team and other platforms in an inspiring way as much as possible! No matter the result, celebrate the team you created, which played a major role in making your hackathon possible.

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