Do you want to host a successful hackathon event in 2022? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed because there is a lot of information to wade through, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you. This hackathon guide is here to help you make the process easier.
What Exactly Are Hackathons?
So, what's a hackathon? A hackathon is a competitive event that brings together innovative minds from various sectors to collaborate on software and hardware projects.
The goal of a hackathon is to create a new piece of hardware or software that can be useful and sometimes entertaining. Computer programmers, software developers, and graphic designers are just some of the few who attend hackathons. There are experts in specific fields that are asked to speak. They will often mentor groups as well.
A hackathon will typically last around two days. During that time, a plethora of healthy competition and lots of great food and fun take place. At the end of the event, projects will be judged. The winners will take home cash prizes, along with resources to bring their prototype to market.
Read more about what hackathons are and what they accomplish.
How do Different Types of Hackathons Work?
There are many kinds of hackathons, and they all serve different purposes, so it's essential to learn about the different types before learning how to run a hackathon. The most common reasons for hosting a hackathon are to solve a problem, have participants engage with a specific brand, or gain feedback on certain products.
Internal hackathons are hosted by corporations for their employees, encouraging them to get creative and come up with ideas to scale the business or industry. Internal hackathons are great for boosting morale and employee engagement.
Find out more about how to organize an internal hackathon.
An external hackathon is when organizations outsource creativity to all over the world. It brings together internal employees with external minds, inspires them to drive innovation, and create solutions to industry problems.
Social hackathons address crucial issues within specific areas, such as education and healthcare. They encourage people to come up with solutions to pressing matters in a community.
Industry hackathons focus on upgrading products or creating new ones within a specific industry. Be it tech or music, there is a hackathon for every industry.
Hackathons can either be held online or offline. Virtual hackathons can be convenient as they allow more people to participate. In-person hackathons are great for driving engagement and doing things like beta testing.
Why Have Hackathons Become so Popular Recently?
Hackathons have increased in popularity because they help corporations and organizations drive innovation while also helping individuals expand their creativity.
Hackathons are an effective way for companies to scout new talent through cool hackathon projects. These events bring experts from all different sectors and give them a space to showcase their skills and creative thinking.
Hackathons also improve brand awareness and boost a company’s image as they will be known for thinking outside the box. A hackathon brings the possibility of new products and ideas to further grow a corporation.
For individuals, attending these events is a way to network and collaborate with like-minds. It’s a great way to boost self-expression and enhance a resume.
If you want to know more about the benefits of hackathons, read this!
What Kinds of Companies Should Organize Hackathons?
Any kind of company can organize a hackathon, not just tech companies. Most industries need to find a way to drive modernization and solve problems. What better way than to organize a hackathon agenda where talented people can come together and find solutions?
Because there are countless different hackathon structures, any company in any industry can benefit from organizing one. Your company doesn’t have to be a tech giant like Microsoft to run a hackathon. Companies like Hasbro and Chevrolet have also organized hackathons. Many startups have even come to fruition after a successful hackathon.
How to Organize a Hackathon
The most important step in hackathon planning is to define the purpose and have clear objectives. Are you trying to find solutions to a problem, engage your employees, or find new talent? Define this objective before you can begin the process of running a hackathon.
To prepare for the hackathon you will need to decide on the type of hackathon to host, the rules that need to be put in place, and then start the registration process.
Next, you will need to decide on a hackathon theme and the judging criteria. The main theme should be broad, then decide on a sub-theme so that projects are finding solutions for a given problem.
The next step will be to promote the hackathon. You can effectively promote your hackathon by posting on social media, reaching out to relevant communities, placing ads, and getting listed on hackathon.com
It’s important to stay in communication with participants and provide resources for mentorship and training, which can be in the form of workshops or educational video chats.
Other things to keep in mind are finding a good caterer, building a judging panel, and finding relevant sponsors. To get an in-depth guide on how to organize a hackathon, read this next.
Hackathon Sponsorship: How Does it Work and Where to Find Sponsors
When your business aligns with a reputable brand, it can increase your credibility and public image. Sponsors can provide money or other resources for your event in exchange for promotional benefits.
Find out what companies have sponsored similar hackathon formats in the past and do some research on similar companies. You will want to make sure that whatever sponsor you choose their goals align with your hackathon’s goals.
The best way to find sponsors is to reach out to individual companies that have sponsorship programs, or you can utilize online sponsor marketplaces. Read more about hackathon sponsorship tips!
What Makes a Good Hackathon Project?
A good hackathon project starts with a plan. When a project is executed successfully it is because the individual came in with an idea and they kept it simple.
Hackathon Project Ideas and Resources
Let’s dive into some simple project ideas for your next hackathon.
- Education: education is a popular category because it can be applied to many different areas. Some project ideas about education would be an app that helps people find universities and specific courses or software that helps tutor students more effectively.
- Healthcare: Healthcare is an essential part of human life, and it’s a category that always needs improvement. A popular idea is improving how rural communities get access to healthcare or automating the management of ambulances.
- Environment: Now more than ever, people are trying to find ways to improve the dire environmental issues of our planet. Even small contributions are important. An app that helps people find better ways to recycle their everyday objects is an idea growing in popularity.
- Cool tech: This is always a popular category and equally important. It’s no small task in improving facial recognition software or automating dangerous jobs.
If you need more ideas, read about creative hackathon ideas.
Hackathon Examples from the Past and What Made Them Successful
These hackathons have some notoriety and tend to draw in large crowds and public attention.
HackMIT started back in 2014, and it was so successful that they have continued it every year since. It’s free to attend, but you have to solve a complicated puzzle before you are allowed to participate. Some themes they have done in the past include financial tech and urban innovation. They were successful because of their networking capabilities and famous sponsors, such as Microsoft and Facebook.
NASA has been running hackathons since 2012 and is considered one of the best in the world. Their goal is to have participants answer real-world problems about space. NASA hackathons have been so successful because of their name, connections, and ability to host over 300 events around the globe at the same time.
HackZurich is the largest hackathon in Europe and has been since 2014. They are known for being prestigious because of their selection process. Out of 55,000 people, only 600 applicants will be chosen to participate. This big-time event has produced software in just 48 hours that allows users to create instruments with simple hand gestures. This hackathon is successful because of its prestige and intense competition.
5 Things to Consider Before Hosting your First Hackathon
Here are some often overlooked but crucial aspects of hosting a hackathon.
Hosting a hackathon takes a lot of research if you want to be fully prepared. One of the best ways to prepare is to attend other hackathons. It’s a good way to see for yourself what works and what doesn’t. It’s also another way to establish connections with people and organizations and get advice and resources.
It takes a lot of time to plan a hackathon. Make sure you set aside enough time to plan every detail and find the right sponsors. You will need at least 6 to 8 weeks to plan a hackathon in its entirety.
It’s essential to find the right venue to host a hackathon. You will need to find something that has enough space to hold all of the participants, plus equipment. It will also need adequate and convenient parking and proper bandwidth for Wi-Fi.
Along with creating a social media page, you will need to create a website. People will need a place to go if they want to get information or apply and register. It can be something simple, as long as it provides relevant information like the theme, location, date, and time.
Like with any competitive event, there needs to be a prize or some type of incentive for winning. Most hosts provide cash prizes and resources to turn a prototype into a final product.
Hackathon Guide: Final Points
If you want to host a successful hackathon in 2022, you will need to decide on the right type of hackathon. Will you be doing an internal or external hackathon? Online or offline? Any business can host a hackathon as long as you define clear objectives for your event. Does the hackathon need to solve a problem, or are you using it to promote creative thinking amongst your employees?
You will need to come up with a theme, a sub-theme, and promote the hackathon on social media and a website. You could also use a website to help participants prepare for the event by providing training workshops and educational videos.
Finding the right sponsors is important because you need to align the hackathon with a company that shares the same values and that your participants will stand behind and be proud to rock their merchandise. This step requires research and a lot of networking. Building connections and relationships with companies are the best way to gain sponsors and promote a hackathon.
Good project ideas start with a plan and tend to keep it simple. What is the most logical way to solve a problem, and how can it be done? The most popular broad project genres are education, health, environment, and cool tech.
Some overlooked things to check off your list is to attend other hackathons for ideas and research, allow enough time to properly plan, find a spacious and comfortable venue, create a web presence, and decide on what the prize will be for the winners.
Organize a Hackathon with Hackathon.com
Navigating the ins and outs of organizing a hackathon can be time-consuming. That’s where we come in. We have a global team, plenty of tools, and resources to help you save time and ensure you have a successful hackathon.
If you’re ready to get started with organizing your hackathon, contact us. Our team is ready to help you!