1. An inspirational shared challenge.
2. A great venue, at a great location.
3. Maximised “hacking” time, and minimised interruptions.
4. A focus on making it a joy for participants; support, refreshments, attention.
Make it close to transport links, near good bars and restaurants, and in a memorable building with good ventilation and lighting. Avoid bland hotels.
Use the “How might we…. ?” approach to framing an inspirational, open challenge. Avoid specifying technology, and avoid citing other products or approaches.
Typically, Hackathon events 1-3 days, with the sweet spot being 2 days. 1 Day is fine for an “in house” company Hackathon, and generally 3 days is too long for people to “get away from the day job”.
The Top 5 things to remember for a Great Hackathon
1) An inspirational shared challenge
Choose a problem that all participants are interested in solving, so that you have a shared mission. You can use a “How might we …?” question to frame the challenge. Be sure to keep it broad and unrestricted.
2) A great venue at a great location
Avoid bland hotel spaces, and industrial estates out of town. Think: natural light, unusual, spacious, within buzzing communities, and good transport links.
3) Maximum “hacking” time, and minimum interruptions.
Get the participants in quick, and kick off rapidly. Avoid making participants sit through sponsors’ or stakeholders’ presentations (do those as trade stands at the side of the room instead). Do not interrupt your participants
4) Focus on making it a joy for participants
Provide comprehensive support – whatever you can afford: Technical, Expert, User Testing, Artistic, Physical materials, etc!
5) Fresh food and refreshments
Refreshments are essential – make sure they are always available, and ensure that the catering provides good, hot, diverse food.
Hack events are only good when they are done well!
A hack event design is easy to screw-up. Avoid common pitfalls and find out more about designing a great hack event here.
Short on time?
Use these templates to help with business best practice:
- Hack Day Event
- Hackathon Event
- Hackathon Planning and Delivery
- SWAG - Merch, Gifts and Keepsakes for Hack Event Participants
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Hackathon events (or “hack days”) are a fabulous way of getting the best from your community: a challenge, socialising and intense creativity all mixed to deliver and test bold ideas.
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