Five Tips on Designing a Winning Hackathon
We just finished another hackathon, this time for leading corporate clients. It was a great success, the clients were very happy. Here are a few winning tips that make our hackathonsits produce great results at the end of the Hackathon.
Final pitches tend to be too short because there are too many presenting teams and not enough time. One way to solve this is to create a semi-final event where all teams pitch to a group of mentors. Have each mentor rank the teams, add up all the rankings. The top scorers would be the finalists. They will have more time to pitch and even present a prototype if they have one.
Try to Treat the Hacking Hall Like A Clean Room
Brief everyone who goes into the hacking hall. People should go in and out as they wish but you should try and maintain control over who goes in the hall so you know who is who and hackathonists are not interrupted. These are the people who should be allowed in the hall: hackathonists, mentors, organizers, judges, press, invitees.
Three Types of Mentors
Every hackathon should have a problem owner, a technical mentor and a business mentor in the room at all time. The problem owner will know best how to explain the challenge. The technical mentors will know what type of technical solutions are feasible and the business mentor will know how to direct towards a solution that aligns with the client’s business goals. Their presence and availability will ensure hackathonists get immediate feedback.
Hackathonists should to go up on stage to pitch only after going through a pitching workshop. It is recommended to have the pitching experts mentor hackathonists in advance and go through each team’s slide deck before the semi-finals. Doing so will ensure a good quality baseline for the pitches. Remember, a good pitching event creates lasting impression.
Schedule’s Next Up
If you have a beamer in the hacking hall prepare in advance a few slides that describe what’s happening next in the agenda; very simple to make, keeps everyone informed and there’s no need to interfere ongoing hacking with announcements.
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