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Talent Assessment | 6 Min Read

How to choose the right online hackathon platform provider: A detailed guide

What is a hackathon platform?

A hackathon platform, also known as hackathon management platform, is a web-based software that enables seamless hosting of virtual coding events/hackathons. Such platforms are adaptable to match varying specifications of online coding assessments, contests, collaborations and other programming projects. The ideal hackathon platform enables organizers to manage all the processes and stages that drive the event to completion. Examples of such processes include sending invites, project evaluations, interactions, progress tracking, goal setting, organizing prizes, and keeping task records.

This article introduces you to the basics of hackathon platforms, their benefits and their best features. You will also find the list of most effective platforms that you can use to conduct your online hack event.


Leading hackathon platform providers in 2022

The right online hackathon platform, with the right features, is half the battle won. We have curated a list of the best online hackathon platforms to help you conduct a successful event.

OfferingsFeaturesMercer | MettlTechgigDare 2 CompeteHackerearth
Marketing & Operational SupportCustomized Marketing PlanYesNoYesNo
Campus ConnectYes (2000+ Campuses Covered)NoNoNo
24*7 SupportYesNoNoNo
Platform CoreSelf-service Microsite CreationYesYesYesYes
Admin DashboardYesYesYesYes
Ideathon PlatformYesNoNoYes
Case Study SimulatorYesNoNoNo
Multi-user Login & Role-based AccessYesNoNoNo
Invitation PlatformYesNoNoYes
Complete Round Approval & Rejection AutomationYesNoNoNo
Rich Question Bank - Coding Challenges, MCQs & Simulator SupportYesNoNoNo
Availability of Additional Assessments (Psychometric, Behavioral, Cognitive, Domain)YesNoNoNo
Performance Metrics & Post-event AnalyticsYesNoNoNo

Mercer | Mettl


Founded in 2010 and acquired by Mercer in 2018, Mercer | Mettl helps organizations make better people decisions in two key areas of human resource management – talent acquisition, and training and development. Mercer | Mettl’s subject matter expertise across psychometric and technological domains, robust platform and analytical rigor, set it apart.

Mercer | Mettl’s hackathon platform, Xathon, lets you conduct large-scale online hackathons, ideathons, and case study competitions with expert guidance on themes, objectives and problem statements, with 24×7 logistical and virtual support for the hackathon software. These offerings enable implementing hackathons a simple and efficient process.

  • Key features: Customized landing page, a multi-functional dashboard for organizers, participants, judges, quick and easy scheduling and task management, automated workflows, proctoring, marketing and operational support, live and custom event leaderboards, etc.
  • Event flow/stages: Ideation with text and file uploads, customizable assessment facets: scoring, total attempts allowed, auto approval/rejection, etc., manual evaluation with media and link addition features.
  • Additional events supported: Case study competitions, ideathons, business strategy contests, etc.
  • Client base: Amazon.com, Inc., Microsoft, J.P. Morgan Chase, Cognizant, HCL, etc.
  • End- users: Freelancers, startups, multinational companies, SMEs, agencies, enterprises.
  • Available support: Email, phone, live chat, training, tickets
  • Use cases: Campus hiring drives, talent acquisition, idea crowdsourcing, workforce engagement, etc.




A part of The Times of India Group, TechGig is an exclusive platform for IT professionals to display their work, upskill themselves, stay updated, and network with techies across industries. TechGig often hosts sponsored hackathons on their online hackathon platform.

  • Key features: Gamification of the hackathon workflow, multiple language and technologies support, single platform management, etc.
  • Event flow/stages: Event creation and hosting, progress tracking, customized project management
  • Client base: Invesco, Times Internet, Ernst & Young, etc.
  • End- users: Tech companies, multinational corporations
  • Available support: Email, phone
  • Use cases: Crowdsourcing business ideas and prototypes, solving business challenges, nurturing and scaling up innovation




Formerly known as Dare2Compete, Unstop provides on-campus and online gamified solutions for recruitment, engagement, and branding. Its platform supports online quizzes, hackathons, business strategy simulation games, etc. It can customize your engagement medium as per your business needs.

  • Key features: Leaderboard, proctoring, landing page creation, etc.
  • Event flow/stages: Problem statement distribution, prototype submission, live leaderboard, technical/coding assessment
  • Additional events supported: Quizzes, hiring challenges, scholarships
  • Client base: CNBC TV18, Aditya Birla Group, Reliance, Uber, etc.
  • End- users: Academic institutions, businesses, media houses
  • Available support: Phone, email
  • Use cases: Coding assessments, design challenges, L&D (learning and development), recruitment




Started with a single goal of making technical recruitment simple and efficient in 2012, HackerEarth is a tech enthusiast community of developers and businesses, aimed at leveling up their coding skills and hiring the best tech talent, respectively. HackerEarth has a virtual hackathon platform that enables businesses to host hackathons that drive innovation.

  • Key features: Customized landing page, a dashboard for organizers, participants, judges, ideathon platform, access to a huge tech community, etc.
  • Event flow/stages: Event creation and marketing, registrations, team management, submissions and evaluations, leaderboard publishing
  • Additional events supported: Hiring challenges, campus hiring drives
  • Client base: Kone, Airbus, Hewlett Packard, etc.
  • End- users: IT companies, multinational organizations, academic institutions
  • Available support: Phone, email
  • Use cases: Recruitment, talent assessment, tech innovation, upskilling.


Seven salient features that define an ideal hackathon platform

Here is a list of features that the hackathon toolkit of your chosen partner should include.

Marketing support

One of the many reasons to conduct hackathons is to garner substantial attention with a single event, be it for recruitment or innovation. Therefore, marketing support is the first checkbox to tick when choosing a hackathon vendor to ensure its success.

If the hackathon is intended to engage with campus students, your hackathon partner should have experience in conducting campus drives and offer inroads into already engaged campuses. Campus connect is an important aspect of hosting a hackathon for campus recruitment.

For hackathons aimed at lateral hiring, brand building and innovation, your hackathon vendor needs to market you to the right communities. Getting mass registrations is always challenging for organizations. Hence your hackathon partner must have a demonstrated ability to garner mass registrations.

A successful hackathon partner can create a strong brand out of your hackathon event, garner significant interest, set word of mouth in motion, and make it go viral through its marketing prowess, compelling campaigns, and maximal out-reach to drive massive registration and participation.

Platform features

Personalized event page

The event page is a one-stop shop for all event-related information. You need to have a customized and self-serviced, white-labeled microsite that enables easy configuration of various rounds and stages, also allowing you to integrate it with your website to drive maximum registrations.

Quick scheduling

The best online hackathon platforms enable you to conduct a successful hackathon, with a single and streamlined dashboard for admin and judges. The hackathon software needs to be robust and dynamic to allow quick scheduling and manage large-scale participation.

Seamless collaboration

While an onsite hackathon allows you to collaborate with other participants in person, online hackathons are highly dependent on platform-supported seamless collaborative experience. Hackathons are all about collaborative innovation, and your chosen hackathon platform should embody it.


Hackathons are about the excitement and thrill that accompanies innovation. Thus, a leaderboard is a splendid feature to have in your hackathon toolkit to allow participants to keep up with the adrenaline rush.

Automated shortlisting process

Hackathons often see participation in large volumes. Therefore, it is impossible to assess every entry personally. You need to look for an online hackathon platform that uses smart technology to automate the shortlisting process and enable easy review of submissions for judges and panelists.

Operational support

A large-scale hackathon also has its operational and execution challenges. Right from registration queries to technical difficulties, your hackathon partner should be able to manage it all. Technical challenges are intrinsic to expansive events. Moreover, a high number of participants means greater touchpoints and engagement instances. Ensure that your hackathon partner is ready and able to provide 24*7 on-ground support for all the areas mentioned above.

To summarize, it is wise to choose a hackathon tools partner with ample experience of conducting large-scale hackathons to ensure seamless events, and, in fact, prepare for them in advance.

A hackathon consists of three principal stakeholders – participants, organizers and judges. Your hackathon platform and partner should ensure a seamless flow of information and effortless integration among them to make the event enjoyable and effective for everyone involved.


Factors to consider before choosing a hackathon platform

Some crucial points to keep in mind when choosing a hackathon software are – Scale, Complexity, Support, & Customization.


Infographic 1



Every virtual hackathon platform is not scalable. Ensure that your chosen hackathon platform is scalable to host many participants and allow them to brainstorm and collaborate in an interactive environment. In the absence of scalability, managing copious amounts of registrations and judging a large pool of participants can outwear hackathon software. Always remember that a reliable hackathon platform efficiently manages all communications and entries in a single dashboard with the utmost ease.

Infrastructure & network support

Online hackathons have a far-reaching impact, but you need a robust hackathon platform ideal for prototype submissions. A file upload portal that supports multiple file formats empowers participants to explore creativity without limitations. Considering that hundreds and thousands of participants attempt to upload and download files simultaneously, a robust infrastructure support system needs to be in place to support increased traffic and bandwidth usage.

Not just hackathons

Hackathons are one of the many modes of engagement. But with innovation being extended to all domains of business, your hackathon toolkit needs to be able to support ideathons, case study competitions, quizzes, contests and other brainstorming sessions. The right hackathon software can easily be configured for different engagement events by assigning multiple evaluators, defining the evaluation parameters and considering every idea with an optional feedback function.


Top 12 reasons to use a hackathon platform

Events such as hackathons, ideathons and case study competitions, earlier seen as onsite events, are shifting to the online mode for enhanced visibility and global reach. Hackathons induce innovation by providing a platform to tech enthusiasts. Moreover, hackathons have been especially useful in innovating through new-age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Science and Machine Learning (ML).

Hackathons can help you establish a brand presence, recruit professionals, engage existing employees and accelerate product innovation. However, you first need an online hackathon platform that supports all your objectives. Due to its wide applications, there is a tremendous increase in the number of hackathons being conducted worldwide. Organizations require an online hackathon platform to support such engaging and meaningful virtual events.


Image 1


While hackathon platforms are one aspect of a mega event, marketing and operational support are also important considerations when choosing a hackathon vendor. Hackathons are about fulfilling the desired organizational objectives by employing marketing strategies and seamless operational support.

Having said that, it is crucial to use a trusted hackathon platform for conducting these events. It is not possible to ensure hackathon success in the absence of an advanced online solution. To understand better, let us dive deep into the twelve major benefits of using a hackathon platform.

Efficient communication

1. Provision of multiple communication channels
With multiple communication channels like live streaming, message boards, live chats, etc., a hackathon platform encourages productive dialogue between all groups throughout the event, before the event and even after the event. It facilitates ongoing discussions for future projects, reflections on the event, clarifying doubts before the event, etc.

2. Hassle-free coordination among organizers and administrators
The multi-channel communication advantage extends to coordination among organizers and administrators. Using the hackathon platform as an efficient communication tool adds to the efficiency of ideating and conducting the event.

3. Better dialogue between organizers and participants
Using the communication channels provided by the platform, participants can reach out to organizers at any point to get resolutions to their problems, answers to their questions, suggestions, advice regarding mentorship and other crucial matters.

4. Efficient communication among participants
Digital events need extra support to make up for the lack of spontaneous communication (as in the case of conventional hackathons). In that case, virtual hackathon software ensures private messaging systems and cross- collaboration features to support communication between participants.

5. Creative collaboration across geographies
Online hackathon platforms allow like-minded programmers to collaborate and form creative teams despite geographical distance and boundaries. Hence, it is an excellent tool for team-based contests and projects where multiple individuals can enjoy the freedom to pick their own team members.

Efficient event management

6. Better accessibility to event details
An efficient online hackathon platform serves as a one-stop reference for accessing important event information round the clock. Therefore, if there are any changes in schedule or updates in rules, you do not have to worry about informing participants individually. Everyone can use the platform dashboard to learn about these details, ask questions and avoid miscommunication.

7. Automated registrations
You can automate the entire registration process using a hackathon platform. With the right set of tools and features, the platform records and updates entries without any human intervention. That frees up time for administrators to focus on other areas like event marketing.

8. User-friendly project submission
Hackathon software embedded with the right hackathon tools minimizes the risk of plagiarism or any projects being lost. Using smart technology for end-to-end management of these virtual events allows participants to submit their work in minimum steps, without hassle.

9. Cohesive team-management
Online hackathon software simplifies large-scale team management by tracking every individual’s contribution to organizing the event. It makes it easier to be unbiased and hold the team members accountable for their work.

10. Unbiased project evaluations
A hackathon platform allows complete transparency at every level. Therefore, managing and evaluating submissions turns into a hassle-free, unbiased process. Moreover, the ideal hackathon platform would support several evaluation methods including quantitative evaluation, evaluations based on pre-decided criteria, factors to decide rankings, etc.

Nurturing a culture of innovation

11. Mentorship across geographies
A virtual hackathon platform brings together several experts with extensive technical experience. Hence, there are countless networking opportunities and the perfect space to seek guidance. Moreover, participants can connect with hackathon mentors internationally and work on extending such a rapport beyond one event.

12. Global project showcase
An online hackathon platform serves as an exceptional tool for programmers to highlight and share their projects globally. This allows them to develop a strong portfolio and become part of an ecosystem that encourages idea management, value addition, displaying technical prowess and more.


How Mercer | Mettl can help

With Mercer | Mettl’s hackathon platform, Xathon, you can leverage a team of subject-matter experts for ideation and problem statement creation. Our rich library of questions and MCQs spanning every domain of business is our strong suit. Our range of simulators complement our hackathon toolkit and can be easily integrated. Furthermore, our powerful utilization of automation, our ability to scale and deep analytical rigor set us apart.


Here’s how Mercer | Mettl helps you organize a hackathon in 4 effortless steps:

  • Create an impressionable webpage for your event by logging into Mettl’s hackathon platform and entering all relevant details about your event. Define the stages by providing all essential information about challenges, participation, prizes, rules, and guidelines in one single dashboard. Your event is ready to be rolled out!
  • Mercer | Mettl’s hackathon toolkit consists of marketing support, social media campaigns, community reach outs and email campaigns to increase engagement and drive registrations. You can also market your hackathon using our dedicated marketing SPOC.
  • Let the event begin. Allow participants to easily create teams, strategize, collaborate and manage their submissions on a single platform. Inform teams of their progress through automated approvals and rejections after round completions. Let teams track live updates and score through the dynamic leadership board.
  • Once the contest closes, it is time for judges to log in, grade submissions, or vet the automated results. Announce and reward the winners and get ready to dive deep into post-event analytics to derive ROI.



Online hackathons are fast replacing onsite hackathons because of the availability of stellar online hackathon platforms. They make hackathon organization and management effortless.

All you need to do is to choose hackathon software that:

  • Provides a single dashboard with exceptional features to set up an event landing page.
  • Configures multiple rounds with clear instructions about the challenge and rules in a single click.
  • Markets your event to increase traction and attract participants.
  • Enables participants to create teams and collaborate.
  • Allows the software to easily cull results and the judges to easily review participant submissions.
  • Enables easy tracking and winner announcements.

The best online hackathon platform is not the one with the most features but one that meets your requirements of cost, complexity and scale. In the end, the biggest USP of a hackathon platform is to allow you to create a custom hackathon flow so that you can customize it as per your needs. The right online hackathon platform contributes to scaling your efforts and streamlining the process while ensuring the simplicity of tasks, scalability, cross-functional collaboration, efficient idea management, constancy and ease of access.

Originally published August 31 2020, Updated December 6 2023

Written by

Bhuvi is a content marketer at Mercer | Mettl. She's helped various brands find their voice through insightful thought pieces and engaging content. When not scandalizing people with her stories, you’ll find her challenging gender norms, dancing to her own tune, and crusading through life, laughing.

About This Topic

A hackathon or ideathon is an event where people with different skill sets come together to solve predefined challenges within a specified time frame. Ideathons and hackathons are increasingly being used for corporate branding, hiring at speed, innovating and engaging employees.

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