How to organize a winning company hackathon — Pt.1: The Team

Shir Peri
Shir Peri
Nov 3 · 3 min read
The hackathon team

In this series of six blog posts, you’ll get a handy guide on how to organize a 24h hackathon for ~100 participants.

We’re Elay Gliksberg, a software developer, and Shir Peri, developer relations, and we recently organized our company’s (Soluto) hackathon together with two other colleagues.

Our hackathon had about 100 participants and we had fun organizing it. We collected a lot of knowledge and we noticed that company hackathons are gaining popularity, so we decided to share our formula for organizing awesome hackathons in a series of six blog posts. This is the first post, hold on to it — it’s going to come in handy!

Building the team

So you work in a company and you want to organize a hackathon, putting together a great team is the first step to making this event a great success.
Following different experiences from past hackathons we’ve organized, we came up with two basic rules of thumb regarding the team structure:

  1. Keep the organizing team small. Organizing a hackathon means you need to make hundreds of decisions in a short period of time. If the organizing team is big (more than 4 people), it’s hard to move ahead while keeping everyone happy. We believe 3–4 organizers is the ideal number of people for organizing a hackathon. Naturally, more people will be involved with logistics, design, food, external vendors, etc, but it works best when there’s a core team delegating these tasks.
  2. The team should include the needed functions for the event. In our case, the team functions were: developer, UX designer, developer relations, and office admin. The tasks in a hackathon are very broad: setting a scoring system, preparing decorations, ordering food, buying giveaways, and more. When the core team has all the skills needed to make the event happen — organizing the event is easier and more efficient.

As the team is built from people with various roles, each team member takes responsibility for the type of tasks that suit her/him best.

Move fast

There are so many decisions you’ll have to make during the event; make sure you’re not overthinking every one of them. Try to make quick decisions and move forward.
Tip: if you have a conflict on some matter, give the final call to the person responsible for it. For example, our UX designer had the final call over decoration disagreements.
But always remember, everybody is doing everything. Especially right before the event, there’ll be lots of logistics tasks that will require the entire team to come together to make sure everything’s done.

Minimum meetings <> maximum efficiency

We had 10 meetings and 3 logistics sessions with the entire team (4 people). That’s it.

In addition, some tasks required only 2 people. For example, we (software developer and the developer relations) were in charge of the scoring system, creating teams, getting the hardware, etc. The admin and the UX designer also had their own meetings regarding prints, decorations, vendors, and more. This way everybody is in sync and the process of organizing the hackathon is more efficient.

Visibility is the key

To make sure that everyone is in sync, we recommend using a Slack channel and scheduling all-hands meetings.

What’s next?

Now, after you picked the perfect team, the next step is making the hackathon memorable! Stay tuned for our upcoming posts in this hackathon series.


Originally published at https://dev.to on November 3, 2019.

Soluto Engineering

Engineering. Data. New Technologies.

Shir Peri

Written by

Shir Peri

Soluto Engineering

Engineering. Data. New Technologies.

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