How to organize a winning company hackathon — Pt.3: Logistics

Shir Peri Lichtig
Mar 4 · 5 min read
Hackathon logistics

After you’ve read our first 2 blog posts about building the team and making your hackathon memorable, it’s time to dive into logistics — the real deal.

Gantt — organize

Let’s start off with one of our top-secret tools, it’s simple and super useful — A GANTT CHART.

You can take a look at our Gantt template to get a better idea of things:

Hackathon Gantt Chart
Hackathon Gantt Chart
Hackathon Gantt Chart

We divided all tasks into 11 main domains (feel free to tweak it):

  1. Food
  2. Decorations
  3. Giveaways
  4. Teaming up and hackathon challenges
  5. IT + equipment
  6. Communications with the company
  7. judging and closing event + winners
  8. Fun activities during the hackathon
  9. Hackathon opening
  10. Logistics + cleaning
  11. PR

Domain owner

Each domain has a designated owner and every task has a task owner. For example: there are 7 tasks under the “Communications with the company” domain. Elay is the domain owner and the 7 tasks are divided between Elay, Shir, and Ran. It’s Elay’s responsibility to make sure his domain’s tasks are taken care of.

Gantt timeline

We had 5 weeks to organize the hackathon, so the Gantt was divided that way. For example: if you need to order something online, you should start with that task first since it might take time for the delivery to arrive.

Let’s say you have 25 tasks in total, spread across the different domains. Focus on the tasks that are relevant to the current week. That way you can maximize efficiency and you won’t have to deal with things at the last minute.

In addition to the Gantt, we had a Slack channel that helped us stay in sync.

Limit the number of meetings

We had 10 meetings in total, including brainstorming, logistics planning, and syncing. All team meetings had a specific agenda, most of them didn’t take longer than 30 minutes (we love efficiency).

In the past, I was involved in planning a hackathon where we had too many meetings, we didn’t start with the top priority tasks, and eventually, we just wasted a lot of time and unnecessary energy. So try to be as efficient as possible and stick to the Gantt timeline.

Budget

Before you start to plan anything, understand what your total budget is. Make a rough plan of how much you want to spend for each domain, taking into consideration food, prizes, giveaways, decorations, activities, hardware, etc.

It’s pretty easy to spend money on a hackathon. There’s so much cool stuff you want to do, and sometimes you might wind up buying the same products twice, or you may lose track of all the suppliers’ payments. Be sure to keep an eye on the budget and stick to it at all times — we recommend using a shared Google spreadsheet so everyone on the team knows the current status of the budget.

Hardware

Some teams might need special hardware for their ideas — strong GPUs, VR devices, IoT devices, etc. Ask the teams to include hardware requirements when they send their project ideas and add a deadline for the hardware asking. Coordinate with the IT team and make a note of which hardware they already have available.

Work with the IT team

In our case, Elay, the developer on the team, worked closely with our company’s IT department. They helped us prepare for the event presentation, display the countdown timer on screens in the office (remember those, from the last blog post?), get the hardware for the teams, play sound effects on all the office speakers, and even just handle the simple stuff like getting extension cords and outlet splitters.

Prepare a list of everything you’ll need from them in advance, and give it to them as soon as possible, so they’ll be able to supply everything on time. Don’t assume they have all these things just lying around.

Be a genie

Think about the moment you finish a very hard backpacking trek in hot weather and you see a small cold lemonade stand at the end of the road 🍹. You say to yourself — this is awesome, it’s just what I needed and here it is!

That’s exactly what logistics is all about:

Prizes

Now to the fun part :) In Soluto we love getting prizes, so we had three types of winners:

  1. R&D Pick — VP R&D gave a prize to the team with the best project technology-wise
  2. Product Pick — VP Product gave a prize to the team with the most innovative product
  3. Hackathon Winners — All the employees voted using a scoring system (we’ll cover this in the next blog post) and the team with the highest score won the grand prize

The first two teams (R&D Pick and Product Pick) got cool travel bottles with the company’s logo on them. The purpose of these categories was to push teams to have good R&D and product innovation.

The team that was named Hackathon Winners had a variety of options to choose from — from Apple AirPods to Robot vacuum cleaners. Every member of the winning team picked one prize and we got it for them the next day.

In the next blog post, we’ll fill you in on how the scoring system worked and how the hackathon winners were chosen.

Peace and Love,

Shir & Elay

Soluto Engineering

Engineering. Data. New Technologies.

Shir Peri Lichtig

Written by

Developer Relations at Soluto (Asurion)

Soluto Engineering

Engineering. Data. New Technologies.

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