Few things are more frustrating for participants than unanticipated changes in the competition. Whenever possible, keep the important details of your hackathon (e.g. dates, scope, rules, etc.) firm.
Impact and Purpose. Before getting too deep into the details of your competition, it’s vital that you establish the core purpose of your hackathon.
- Why is your organization holding this hackathon and what is the end goal you want to achieve? Is it to add more developers to your ecosystem?
- Do you want more apps in your store?
- Do you want to further adoption of your API, etc.?
It’s equally important to define what’s interesting about your hackathon from the participant’s perspective.
- Why should they care about your hackathon?
- Are they helping to solve a real-world problem?
- Getting to play with the newest data or tech?
- Is the prize the ultimate reward?
- What’s in it for them?
The answers to these questions should be clear both to your team AND in the web copy you present on the challenge site. If you can’t explain it in two or three sentences – try again.
Dates. Be sure to build in adequate time for each stage of your hackathon. For instance, we recommend a 3-4 month submission period to allow enough time for marketing and for submitters to build their apps, even if they don’t hear about the hackathon until 6 weeks in. Also, you may want to leave a week or more to test and/or screen apps before or after your judging and/or public voting period.
Rules and intellectual property. Be clear in your official rules about what rights your organization will have to the submissions and intellectual property. (Refer to our “Creating Hackathon Rules” help document for further details.) Generally, we recommend that participants retain any applicable intellectual property rights in their submissions. Pressuring developers to do otherwise may stifle innovation and participation, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Prizes & Incentives. The appropriate number of prizes will depend on your budget and goals. For example, 6 ~ 8 prizes would be appropriate for a budget of $50K and above, and the prize track might include:
- Overall Best Applications (1st, 2nd, & 3rd place, honorable mentions)
- Popular Choice Award (most votes from site visitors)
- Large Organization Award (Generally, a non-monetary recognition prize for organizations with 50 or more employees.)