How to run a Perfect Online Hackathon.
Want to run a virtual event but you don’t know where to start? In this article, we will examine in detail how to start an online Hackathon. This hackathon guide comprehends countless lessons learned from our successful past global events. Kreativdistrikt is a world-leading Online Hackathon Agency helping customers to achieve their goals.
Request the full PDF article with Excel work back to review each Hackathon step. Contact us to guide you in your project!
These are the steps we went through in the organization of a Hackathon.
Don’t stress, this guide will explain each step in-depth.
- Build your Online Hackathon Website and Registration Form
- Set up an effective outreach campaign
- Apply a human-centered design thinking approach
- Online meetings via webinars
- Select the best ideas and announce the teams
- Milestones, technical support, and project submission
- Judging period
- Winners announcement
- Important tips
Build your online hackathon website and registration form.
Online Hackathon Website
In order to know how to start a Hackathon first a good, clear, and engaging website is crucial. Take a look at the one we designed.
It contains all the main sections. Consider it while designing your online hackathon website.
Hackathon registration form
When organizing an online hackathon, it’s important to get contact details but it’s also crucial to try to understand if registrants are serious about the hackathon. Therefore, we asked them to provide the following:
- Perceived Effectiveness. That is, how effectively the idea/solution addresses issues related to one of the four challenge categories (If the hackathon has categories)
- Technical Feasibility. I.e., how technically feasible would the solution be to create and produce.
- Uniqueness. In brief, how unique the idea/solution is? Moreover, how can it help promote the usage of your technologies, software, and/or products?
- Business Potential. For instance, how much short and long-term revenue potential would the idea represent? Also, how easy the proposed business model would be to implement?
At last, you can use these online tools to organize a Hackathon:
- Typeform: a “made for humans” form software that can help you get more thoughtful responses, and higher completion rates.
- WordPress plugins such as Contact Form 7 or WPforms: tools made to help you keep track of the registrations and your Hackathon process flow in a simple way and, at the same time, you don’t need to know much about databases.
Set up an effective outreach campaign
How to find participants for your online hackathon
Let’s assume, for instance, that your client expects to have 65 teams from around the world. That said, you would like to choose 10 great ideas out of them. At this point, it’s time to set up your outreach campaign and consider the budget to organize an online Hackathon. In this case, these were the best options:
- Own Database.
- Facebook Campaign.
- LinkedIn Campaign.
We have a very extensive database in EMEA. Especially in the western EU, Middle East, Dubai, and Tel Aviv that will help you to conduct a Hackathon Online. Of course, this helped us quickly connect with developers.
If you need to start from scratch, then reaching out to community managers is the best option for you to organize a Hackathon and generate hackathon registrants. Turing is a great way to start. They have a global presence and can help you in reaching out to the right people for your online hackathon.
Apply a human-centered design thinking approach
Whenever possible, consider using a design thinking approach when creating your virtual hackathon intellectual structure. With this largely used approach, designers’ work processes help us systematically extract, teach, learn and apply human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way – in our designs, in our businesses, in our countries, in our lives.
These are the design thinking steps:
- Empathise – with your users
- Define – your users’ needs, their problems, and your insights
- Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions
- Prototype – to start creating solutions
- Test – solutions
We at Kreativdistrikt, widely use this effective technique to conduct our virtual hackathons.
Online meetings via webinars
Once we got a minimum of 40 registrants, we scheduled a couple of explanatory webinars in our Hackathon program. Surely, you want to do this before the selection announcement.
Zoom is still the most valuable tool in town. Firstly, you can choose a license depending on your webinar audience size. Secondly, you can also record the webinar. Lastly, you can upload and share it with stakeholders that couldn’t attend it for any reason.
In these calls, we went through any technical aspect of the challenge. In sum, we clarified any registrants’ doubt collecting requests and suggestions.
Only if your online hackathon is global, try to find a suitable time for each country.
Select the best ideas and announce the online Hackathon teams
Once the selected 10 out of 65 registrants were chosen, we called them directly. This was done to make sure they had the intent to effectively participate. Certainly, this is crucial to find committed teams that won’t give up early in the competition.
Consequently, we announced the selected ideas on our website. The outcomes were also communicated via tailored emails to each participant.
Milestones, technical support and project submission
Undeniably, you want to keep track of project progress. Another key point is monitoring participants’ commitment. To this end, we set the following 3 milestones. As can be seen in these Hackathon steps, these items should be delivered before the Project Submission:
#1 – Essay: this document explains the idea behind the team’s proposed solution. Nonetheless, it should also describe the methods and laying outflows and features.
#2 – Mockup Demo: It’s a basic visual prototype. However, it also gives a look and feel of the future solution. This is useful to test the core concepts and clear the loose ends.
#3 – Final video: That is when participants showcase the different structures of the solution they designed.
#4 – Project Submission: Make clear from the beginning how you want the project delivered. In particular, language required, deliver a ZIP file, a link to Apple App Store / Google Play Store. If you don’t plan to use an online hackathon platform, then, Google forms is a great way to have the submission documentation all in one place.
Make sure to involve all project stakeholders in your Hackathon program. Furthermore, nominate a diverse internal panel. Generally, the winning project discussions can last from a few hours up to 2 weeks, depending on your online hackathon structure and planning. These are the jury profiles you should consider:
- Technical Experts.
- Marketing Experts.
- Project Managers.
- Sales Managers.
Above all, this gave us a 360-degree opinion about what happened during the online hackathon. This is done both from the development and sales sides likewise. Most importantly, you want your projects to thrive in the respective markets. In fashion, you don’t want to forget about technical aspects.
Important tips to consider
- First of all, always consider a 40% to 50% cancellation rate. For instance, add a “wild card” team that could replace a quitter.
- Secondly, when setting milestones and webinars, always consider the team’s different time zones. In like manner, remember when country regional holidays are. E.g., make sure to set your schedule when everyone is available. In addition, make clear that English is the unique hackathon language.
- Moreover, don’t overwhelm teams with tasks. Keep them simple, useful, and easy to deliver.
- Further, communicate frequently with participants. I.e., send updates and reminder emails. Keep them engaged day by day and monitor progress. To this end, writing a few days before a deadline or right after it could be a good idea. “Thank you for your milestone! Now it’s time to work on the next one…”
- In addition, extending the Project Submission Deadline is not a crime. You want them to develop a good product.
- Spend time building the online Hackathon website. Indeed, share it with audiences, including the team’s website links. It’s good for your SEO / traffic and therefore future online hackathon projects.
- At last, ask participants to share the online hackathon website link. Again, good for your SEO and company visibility.