Hackathon is a wonderful way to create brand awareness which is an integral part of employer branding. It also plays a very important role in getting fresh ideas from multiple sources, since no two participants will think the same, this helps the organizer to garner something different and unique every time.
Like every other good initiative, Hackathons cannot give optimum outcomes until we strategize our move before executing it. A strategy has always been important to human civilization, every big war to building new infrastructure had a strategy in its core and it offers multiple benefits in the form of mental peace and clarity, sharp fall in expenditure (drop in wastage of due to mismanagement), we can sure relatively sure of the outcome. After all, we do launch activities to fulfill a specific goal, don’t we?
For first-timers and veterans, the strategy can be a bit of a problem until and unless they are well aware of the process, in this article we will explore the ways to strategize so that the end goal is met.
Why do I want to organize an Online Hackathon?
Here comes a million dollar question which might seem an easy thing to answer at the first sight but can be tricky when we are really ‘Grounded’ and not overly excited about our new endeavor.
Hackathons can range from coding challenges to generate new ideas on the environment, so the scope of it is really big. One needs to be clear of the domain and the goal which can be determined by the actual benefit they are going to derive from it.
Once it is clear, half the battle is already won as we can streamline our approach aimed at the particular goal.
Connect with all Enthusiastic Participants ahead of Time
Like every other engagement, Participants are the most important part of Hackathons. Participants are the ones who will come up with new ideas and they are ones who create the brand image. If one is aware of the ‘Trickle-down Theory’ a satisfied participant will draw in few more with the word-of-the-mouth.
So connecting with the attendees or participant is absolutely necessary beforehand, and it should be one of the initial things to start with. The success of Hackathon rest on large participation along with other variables and drawing in a large number of attendees requires a well-planned strategy, like social media coverage, visiting campuses etc. This way, participants can forge relationships and generate ideas before the event. Plus, it gets everyone excited.
One should be presumptuous about the actual participation by analyzing the soaring registrations as roughly 30-40 percent of them won’t turn up for playing due to a variety of reasons. Always aim for a larger amount of registrations so that the core expectation is met.
Ritz of Big Fat Sponsors are always Captivating
Arranging a good sponsor preferably a well-known one can fulfill two expectations- Good prizes and getting associated with their brand name. These are two things a participant will initially look for.
It can be beneficial for the organizer as they will get an extra benefit of not chasing too hard for promotions, which can be taken care of the sponsor to some extent. Both satisfied Participants and Sponsors will always return with more the next year.
Ensure a Flawless Tech Support
Well, I haven’t seen much people talk about Technical support which happens to be the backbone of any Online competitions. Technical glitches should be avoided in the first hand as it always spoils the good impression you might have created till then. Since the whole competition runs on the background support, it should be a top priority to ensure that everything is working perfectly.
Things to be kept in mind for onsite Hackathon:
- Find a place which is away from cacophonous crowd and traffic with locker facilities
- Ensure a stable WiFi connection and also backup in case WiFi goes off
- Make sure the Wi-Fi is well-secured.
- Make sure WiFi is easy to access for all attendees (hand out cards and/or post signs with the Wi-Fi details)
- Keep extra laptops/hardware
- Arrange for a power backup
- Make sure you have spare cables and USB drives available
- If this is a hardware hackathon, allow for extra power
Rules to avoid any later Confusion
Rules are the blueprint on which the Hackathon is built, and rules can range from simple to complex depending upon the structure of the Hackathon. It’s better to give clarity at the start rather than pushing it for later.
It is advisable to inform them about the complete set of rules and guidelines of Hackathon while the participants are registering for the same. Rules include the mission, the time allotted, limits of the software or hardware being created, and sources/data participants can use to create their product.
Send out notification emails in case of any change in the rules. Participants should be very clear about the judging criteria before the start of the event to avoid any confusion later.
Focus on realistic outcomes
Hackathons can be great Idea generators that can profoundly affect the area they are focused on, be it supply chain, food, healthcare, entertainment, environment, etc. However, one needs to stay grounded and not expect that the ideas generated via Hackathon will make the organizer to own the next billion dollar company.
Hackathon itself means to Hack the conventional ideas or problems and solve it with a new approach. It will help to generate ideas, network, and understand more about the industry and the topic that participants are addressing.
It’s time for some Introspection:
- Do we want to choose winners?
Some hackathons are conducted solely get in fresh ideas rather than choosing a winner and that winning idea is going to bring in a revenue. Sometimes, it’s simply to generate ideas and start a movement and not bank too many hopes and anticipation. Such hackathons do not have a panel of judges or prizes to offer.
- Who do we need to judge?
Hackathons with Problem-solving ideas can be employed by companies and organizations which can eradicate an issue faced by such institutions. In such cases, Hackathons choose winners. In order to choose a winner, make sure you have a fair panel of judges, consisting of a wide array of expertise, opinions, and knowledge about the industry you are addressing. The judges should not be the main organizers of the event.
- Is it all about the Prizes?
Prizes can be a decisive factor in drawing in attendees, however, it should not be the standalone thing, because there are chances that the quality of innovation will be compromised.
It should be a learning experience rather than making it a game that pays well. Convey clearly what are you looking for and meet the participants to instill excitement and deep the innovation drive alive. Give participants access to the data they need to move forward with their plans. You don’t want your event to be lost in the shuffle of hackathons and tech conferences. Make it stand out from the rest.
Miscellaneous small things for smooth Running
A peaceful mind and a healthy body can perform greater feats as compared to the mind which is engrossed and clouded. This statement holds true for the competitions like Hackathons. Nosh, Entertainment, and Sleep (NES) are the three most important things which are necessary to maintain a balanced mindset while participating in any mind-centric competition.
Store ample amount of Nosh both healthy and junk because a working mind needs an extra nourishment. Continuous focus is hard to achieve and can drive anyone insane so small breaks are necessary. Arrange some Playstations to help the participants to refresh their minds.
Sleep is the most potent natural method to de-stress. Keep mattresses or deck beds to make the way for a comfortable repose for the participants. And do keep PCO booths so that people can freely speak to their near and dear ones without disturbing others.
These tips can be taken as a guiding document, however, the organizer can always resort to further innovation and personalization in order to make the engagement a successful one.