The hack.init() Admission: Our Goals, Processes and Demographics

Tonight, we are rolling out our last batch of admission decision — check your account dashboard ( in a few hours. If your status isn’t updated within the next 12 hours, let us know by sending an email to Over the past weeks, our Review Committee has gone through hundreds of applications and were deeply impressed by a lot of you. We were amazed by your observations towards the world around you, and can’t wait to see what you will do to make the world a better place. For us, it is heartbreaking during review. Unfortunately, due to space constraints, we are only able to accept 300 hackers from a pool of around 550 applicants. There are many of you who are qualified, and even overqualified to come, and believe us, it’s painful to turn you down.

It is hard to talk about admission. Applications, in a sense, cannot be “scored”. It is not the most objective way to evaluate someone, but this is exactly the beauty and advantage. For us, the review process is a mixture of argument, judgement, and uncomfortable choices. At hack.init(), we tend to make our process as transparent as possible. We are the first hackathon in China that openly talk about the Admission. We can simply say that “Application decisions are final and will not be revisited”, but we think we owe you a proper explanation. We want you to know about our goals and processes, and the community we are working hard to build from Day 1.

Our Criteria

We put a great amount of thoughts into building a community — a vibrant, supporting, and diverse group of hackers who can make an impact towards other people. Finally, we settled down to the following aspects that we mainly consider during the review process.


First and foremost, passion. We at hack.init() believe that only the ones with true passion towards Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics can make true impact. We love hackers who are willing to get their hands dirty, who have a burning desire to make things right. We are willing to accept those who don’t have much prior experiences but has shown real passion, as we believe that with such passion, they will learn with passion and acquire skills they need to realize their dreams.


hack.init() is committed to helping beginners discover the joy of building, and we’re planning an extensive mentorship system and workshop series for hackers just starting out. But for non-Shanghai hackers, we will place a stronger emphasis on technical/design skills. We believe our non-Shanghai hackers will be the fantastic mentors and standard-bearers for the hackathon community, and we know they will show off the amazing things can be accomplished in 24 hours. We want to make hack.init() the first hackathon people attend, and we don’t want to scare anyone by setting the skills bar too high.


Baseline is, we want our hackers to show respect, be nice, and help others. hack.init() is a competition, but it is also a community. A group of people who are passionate about tech gather together to realize their wildest dream. What’s more, we want our hackers to be influencers. We want them to be able to make an impact to the community, to influence others to step into the world of STEAM.


We want to build the most vibrant hackathon community China has ever seen. We want it to be inclusive and open, and poses no discrimination against gender, race, even sexuality. So, we especially look into those who are from different, minority background. We feel that it’s important for us to mention that taking background into account should not be conflated with accepting people who are “less qualified” to be at hack.init(). We can assure you that everyone we admit is qualified to be here, and will contribute actively towards our community.

Our Processes

To make sure our selection process is fair and efficient, we gathered together six reviewers from different background to form a Review Committee. Each application is evaluated by two or more reviewers and has to be unanimous for the decision to be published. Reviewers were asked to skip anyone they knew personally, making these decisions as objective as possible. We want you to know that your application means the world to us, and your submission has been taken seriously. Review is a process of endless arguments among reviewers. We always debate fiercely whether someone deserves to be admitted, waitlisted or rejected. It is difficult for us to make these decisions.

For applicants who submit team application, we first evaluate all members' application as a whole. If the team is competent enough, we will admit all members. If not, we break the team apart and evaluate individually. We feel sorry for breaking a lot of teams apart. But hackathon is all about cooperation, especially with strangers. Just come and find yourself a new team - you'll make new long-lasting friends!


We received in total 544 applications from 8 countries including China, United States, Canada, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Spain. Applicants were from over 250 schools and universities across the world, mainly within China. Of the 544 applicants, 296 were born between 1900–1999, 246 were millennial, and 12 were born in 2017 (just kidding, they input their year of birth wrong).

In the end, we admitted 300 hackers from mainly China, with a handful coming from other countries, yield a 55% acceptance rate. We put an additional 30 applicants on waitlist.

2017 is the first year of hack.init(), but it is the fourth hackathon the Organizing Team has ever organized. It is the hardest hackathon to get into comparing to previous ones and we unfortunately have to reject 214 applicants. We had to turn away people who have been to hackathon we organized multiple times and had done really interesting projects, because at the end of the day, there are many more awesome hackers than we can accommodate.

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