Happy participants are well informed and never thrown a curveball. Before diving too far into your hackathon website copy or communication plan, document and finalize all of the core details of your hackathon. We suggest defining the below:
Purpose and goals.
It is vital that you establish the purpose of your hackathon and any goals you hope to accomplish. Align these goals to your internal KPIs, OKRs, or company mission to help get buy-in to move forward. Here are some things to ask yourself and your team:
- Why is your team or organization holding this hackathon?
- What do you want your team or organization to get out of it?
- What are the qualitative and quantitative goals you want to achieve?
- What does success look like for you?
Theme or inspiration.
Now that you know why you are hosting a hackathon (your goals), it is time to think about why your coworkers would participate in the hackathon. Be sure to define what’s interesting about your hackathon from the participant’s perspective.
- Are they helping to solve a real business problem?
- Will they get to play with new data or technology?
- Are they participating for fun and team camaraderie?
Now that you have those answers, be sure to communicate them! The answers to these questions should be made clear to your team or organization in the web copy and throughout communications for your hackathon. If you can’t explain it in two or three sentences – try again.
Outline who can participate and what you want them to submit during your hackathon. This should define which departments are invited, any team size or diversity requirements, and what participants need to include within their project submission. Here are some things we consider:
- Who can participate? Are there any departmental or manager level restrictions or is it open to the entire organization?
- What type of teams are allowed? Will you require teams and is there a maximum number of teammates? Are teams required to be diverse in departments or functions?
What do they need to create? While building out the main requirement we tend to stick to the below outline while tying it into the above details:
Build a [project] using [tool or api] that [theme statement].
Example: Build a web application using React that helps make education accessible.
- Build a [project] using [tool or api] that [theme statement].
- What do they need to submit? For submission requirements, we want to avoid requiring too much. This is especially true for short hackathons where the bulk of the time is best spent on the project itself. We encourage a single requirement such as presentation slides. The platform allows flexibility for a participant to add more.
Time & Dates.
Be sure to consider the following:
- What time zones work best for your team or organization?
- What major events are happening at the organization that may cause conflicts? End of the quarter? Regional holidays? Product launch?
- Is there sufficient time built into the schedule to allow your participants to put something they are proud of together?
- Did you set up time for demos and judging? Consider pushing the demos and judging to the next day or make your hackathon virtual with a much longer participation period.
Prizes & Incentives.
Prizes don’t have to be the center of attention in an internal hackathon. And you don’t have to break the bank. Money is always nice, but so are bragging rights! Just keep in mind that the bigger the hackathon, the better it is to include prizes that non-technical participants can win. Here are some things to consider:
- Everyone's a winner. Participation or eligible submission prizes help give back to participants that put in a solid effort but didn’t win.
- Funniest Pitch, Most Useless Project, or Least Likely to Succeed could add some levity beyond First, Second, and Third Place prizes.
- Desk eye candy, swag, trophies, LinkedIn badges, lunch for the winning team/department, or an extra PTO day can be low-cost alternatives.
- Post-hackathon opportunities. Include meetings with leadership to discuss potential future work on the project. This is a win-win and should be part of any company hackathon.
Need more help? We’re always here for you! firstname.lastname@example.org