Running a successful Hackathon— From Start to Finish

There’s this big thing happening for many firms looking to harness the power of creativity and innovation — Hackathons.

The best way to think or see a hackathon is a unique way of inspiring those within an organization to find a problem and brainstorm a possible solution. Hackathons, also known as hack days give organizations and companies the freedom and at the same time control to problem solve and challenge possible lengthy processes.

Consisting of not just programmers and techies but a slew of brilliant minds — there is an art in the progression of a hackathon from start to finish.

First step, pitch the idea and not the idea you want to solve per se but rather the idea of hosting a hackathon. Though still relatively new, organizations and companies will need to buy in to whether or not a hackathon is worth the time and money. How do you pitch the idea of a hackathon? Doing research of some major companies who use hackathon can work in your favour — Netflix, Google, Shopify and LinkedIn are just a few companies who not only host hackathons but promote them.

Once you have the buy in from your management, organization and key stakeholders, now it is time to create hype.

Just as it was important to have the buy in of potential backers, it is important to also have the hype and interest in your event. The hype is meant to act as a tool of recruiting and gaining the support and interest of potential participants — the more people involved can be beneficial, just be careful to not over do it.

The best way to create hype around your hackathon is through showcasing why this hackathon and the issue or issues you plan on addressing are important. If you are promoting this hack day but have nothing more to show, there will be little to no interest. Another way to promote and create hype is be hyped about your event. If you aren’t interested or invested in the event then others will not be either — use this as an opportunity to be a leader but also to network! Great minds sometimes look for other great minds but also challenges, and your hackathon can potentially draw in those who are looking for a challenge and a once in a career opportunity to show their passion and wealth of knowledge. It’s important to remember that the hype you put out to your colleagues and teammates should be the same magnitude of excitement and investment as what you did the first time with the pitch and buy in.

From buy-in to hype, now to get the gears rolling and creating a log or rather a list of tasks and goals to accomplish. Why? On the day of a hackathon it will be a frenzy of chaos and the last thing you want to do is waste time on minor logistics and details. Time is money, and on the day of the hackathon, you want your best and brightest focused on the goal at hand; therefore, coming up with what it is you want to do on the day will help in this proces.

Now, while though they day may have some minor hiccups as most events do on the day of — it is important to not lose sight of this accomplishment and try to make this hackathon as memorable and enjoyable as possible!

You took the first step to getting your management to buy in, which for some can be a struggle and you did it! Remember that while though you are planning this hackathon with the intent of solving a problem, sometimes a solution doesn’t happen overnight therefore, any experience and opportunity should be seen as a success.

From the support, the hype and now the promoting of your hackathon — it is now time to demonstrate a demo. The demo is a way of putting all your hard work of planning, organizing and coordinating into reality. During this presentation of facts and demos, it is important to ensure that major stakeholders are present but not just them, your management and senior’s team as well. This is essentially in showing the work that your team has done as well as the value of a hackathon.

With your demo and live demonstration, there is never a guarantee that your solutions or the ideas generated will come to fruition but then again that is the reality of problem solving and taking risks and being innovative. However, don’t be discouraged, because even great minds had to experience set backs and great minds had to experience a few obstacles before their million dollar idea became a reality.

At North of 41, you can be part of a community who share in the same vision and mindset as you. Looking for resources to help you turn your dream into reality? Or maybe you are seeking guidance as you turn your idea into something real — no matter what it is; at North of 41 you will find the support you need to succeed in your venture. From organized events, to financial backing — there is always a helping mind at North of 41.

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