5 Things to Know About Planning a Hackathon

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Hackathons — show me a Silicon Valley organization that doesn’t frequently host one, and I’ll show you a business with next to no innovation within its walls. These events — which typically last anywhere from a day to a week — are basically what happens when a tech firm gets all its brightest engineers, programmers, and developers together into a room… then tells them to go nuts creating something cool. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Of course, like any event, there’s a fair bit of planning that goes into a hackathon – particularly if it’s to be a productive one.

What, as an event planner, are your duties when running a hackathon?

Only Certain Venues Will Work

As far as venue selection is concerned, a hack day’s requirements are far more exacting than most other events. You’re going to need a location that provides an extremely powerful network connection, plenty of space for parking, and enough seats and tables for everyone who might possibly think of attending. The most important thing is that the venue feels relaxing, however — you don’t want to be running one of these events in a cubicle maze or cafeteria.

Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure you’ve to someone at the door welcoming and orienting people who show up.

Caffeine And Booze Are A Must (so is food)

Let’s face it – if you’re running a hackathon, most of the people attending probably aren’t going to sleep much. That’s the thing about most creative types, see; once they get an idea in their head and start working on it, they kind of tend to forget they have physical bodies, with all the needs such a thing entails. For that reason, you need to be sure you provide everyone present with plenty of caffeine to keep them awake, and food to keep them from starving. A bit of liquor wouldn’t hurt either; one of main reasons people are here is to have fun, after all. 

You Can’t Not Have Wi-Fi

I’m going to be blunt here: you can’t run a hackathon without Wi-Fi. It simply isn’t going to work. Don’t even bother trying.

Make Sure You Announce It Soon Enough

Generally, you’re going to want to announce your hackathon around two weeks and a day before the actual event – far enough away that people can clear their schedules, but not so far that everyone will forget there’s an event on. There’s nothing wrong with announcing it a month or so in advance, mind you. Just make sure you send out a few reminder messages closer to the event as well. 

There Needs To Be A Post-Mortem Discussion

Given that the main purpose of a hack day is to develop cool, interesting, and downright awesome new gadgets, it stands to reason that you’ll want to get everyone together after the fact in order to see what they’ve come up with.  Talk to everyone about the stuff they made, and figure out when, how, and if you’re going to release any of the details to the general public. Last, but certainly not least, meet with your events team and discuss what you did right (and what you can do better next time).

Hackathons — also known as Hack Days, Code Days, or Codefests — are some of the coolest events you’re ever going to be involved in; the products that are developed there are some of the most innovative In the industry.

If managed improperly, though? You might as well not bother.

Are you planning on running a hackathon soon? Did you know you can use Tweetwall at your event for free? Contact us after creating your Tweetwall account and we’ll get you all setup.