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Talent Assessment | 5 Min Read

6 Tips To Rock Your First Hackathon

6 Tips to Rock Your Hackathon

Starting from designing to implementing to finally reaching the closure, these tips would definitely help you in making your hackathon event a mega success. Take a look.


Identify the Goal Clearly

For a successful hackathon, it is crucial to visualize mentally the complete idea well in advance.

identifying themes in hackathon stats

When it comes to conducting or managing a hackathon event, define the objective of doing it. Begin by laying out the objectives of your event before you start planning. What are you attempting to achieve? What exact problems you are going to solve or what are you planning to achieve?

Make sure whether you are planning to hire top talent or crowdsource ideas/solutions for innovation, or simply trying to create a buzz about your brand. It could be to assemble coders to hire the best out of them or to develop an optimized solution for an industry-related problem. In short, identify the objective before the start. Defining an objective is quite crucial as based on the theme only, you will be able to craft the right messaging and attract the right audience.

Simultaneously, also identify themes well-in-advance that you want the participants to work on. This will not just make participants clarity on what is expected from them but will let you achieve your desired output with minimum hiccups.

Design the Hackathon

Once the goal/objective of doing a hackathon, it’s important to select the logistical format. Organize the hackathon event according to participation demographics.

Online + Offline hackathon

Understand the type of audience, if it’s college students in the list of participants, or freelancers, employees from an established company or a startup. Any hackathon needs guidelines to succeed; these include a Code of Conduct, Hackathon Participation Agreement, an overview of judging criteria – ideally supplemented by who the judges are.

An awesome tip in this direction would be to define certain parameters while designing the hackathon. Understand what type of hackathon you want to conduct for a respective audience. For example, whether you want to conduct an external hackathon (for the outside world) or the internal hackathon (for internal employees) or even both. Then, also figure out the mode of the hackathon, if it’s online, offline, or a blended. Not to miss out here would be – the number of rounds to keep, types of questions (MCQs, case studies, diagram-based, etc.) and the duration of the event.

Source Relevant Candidates

source relevant candidates in hackathon stats

Honestly, a hackathon is of no point if there is a no quality crowd to participate and brainstorm. Once the design phase comes to an end, and you have identified the format and objective of conducting hackathons, comes time to grow up your marketing efforts to engage your participants.

Attract the relevant talent pool.  For that to happen, you need to create a customized marketing plan to let the world know about the event. Spread about it uniformly through all the possible channels, including social media platforms, or through influencers, or publishing on relevant websites. Try to arrange some small events pre hackathon to build interest and engagement.

Hackathons, by nature, tend to attract some of the high cognitive individuals. Getting hands-on spreading the culture of humor along with some ice-breaker activities, could help a lot. This way, get ready with an organic pool of applicants along with community-based registrations which are easy to reach out and relatively large in numbers.

Sort Out Logistical Hassles

Believe it or not, Right Technology to conduct hackathons is still one of the top 3 challenges of organizations who conduct Hackathons.

Never ever underestimate the power of a better platform to conduct hackathons that provides a seamless experience to participants and have some of the top-notch features. A technical hackathon needs stable and accessible internet and power, as well as a modular seating area for teams to self-form. Make sure there are no hiccups at this part, for ignoring these might lead to an unpleasant experience for the participants.

In case of offline events, there should be a proper arrangement of the venue with enough rooms for all the applicants and their equipment. Emphasize on inviting the sponsors at the event, for there are chances of better and more skilled participation in that case.

Hackathons, by nature, are time-taking events, unlike other assessments. If you want the people to be happy, make sure to replenish their energy levels with the right refreshments. This demands proper and timely delivery of food and drinks at regular intervals, which could vary from pop-and-pizza to some healthy spread, whichever appeals to the audience.

Reward Candidate

In spite of the fact that the idea of conducting a hackathon is to implant an innovation-driven culture in the organization, rewards (prizes, gift cards, etc.) add on to that. Never forget, hackathon participants, attend these events for diverse reasons. Some attend to learn new skills or try new ones, be it a new programming language, platform, or API. You get to meet plenty of people with a wide variety of backgrounds. So people participate to meet other participants in the field, especially those who created really awesome prototypes, be it for recruitment, establishing personal connections, or other relevant reasons.

reward candidates in hackathon stats

Nitin Cunha, Director of Developer Relations, Bluzelle says, “Writing a blog post or newsletter article that recognizes their achievements and names them is great recognition, as is a  badge or certificate they can display in their online communities or Linkedin profiles. If you’ve got an audience, who are young and eager to try new things, then keeping them updated and offering them sneak-peeks to your tech is big.”

In fact, this is the foundation of a solid developer outreach program and something to pay you back huge dividends if you continue to nurture it properly.

Measure Its Success

When you opt for a training program, it becomes equally important to measure the effectiveness of it, to prove if it has gone well. Similarly, while distinguishing clear goals is the initial phase in positioning your hackathon, taking the first steps in making it a big; the output equally remains a critical point.

Now, you can measure the success of hackathon by post contest analysis or by measuring the ROI. And there are various ways to do it. For instance, if the hackathon was based on coding challenges, success can be evaluated by any combination of community size, revenue produced, apps built, etc. The number of press and social media mentions are also ways to measure the success of any hackathon event.

Track your ROI by keeping a record of the number of registrations, quality of ideas, and other important pointers.  A survey, conducted by Mettl states the various pointers to measure the success.


However, if you are unaware of what you are trying to achieve through conducting hackathons, then there is something wrong. Make sure you pick some bold objectives to strive towards and make sure they are trackable.

Hackathons are the medium to produce some intangible insights that can evolve ideas to tweak and add new features. Additionally, the hackathon is not just an event but an in-person opportunity to meet and develop a relationship with others from intimately working together and learning and producing something that didn’t exist or looked like an impossible feat in the past.

Have a successful hackathon!


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Originally published November 30 2018, Updated June 16 2020

Ankur Tandon

Written by

Helping businesses beat content mediocrity by generate engaging content, both short and long form including blogs, social media, case studies, newsletters and more.

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