5 Mistakes To Avoid When Conducting A Hackathon

Hackathons are events where a group of people come together for a definite period of time, usually for 24 to 48 hours or even more in some cases, and work on new inventions. It could be based around a specific platform, programming language, framework or it could also be to solve real business problems.

It’s also helpful to give birth to popular open source projects. But to organize a successful hackathon, you will need to stay away from certain mistakes that could be the doom of your event.  In this post we will highlight a few mistakes which you should avoid to prevent a failed hackathon event:

1. Let participants work on their own without any support

The participants should be provided extended support and guidance when they are working for these projects this will benefit both the participants and the event host as there will be a higher level of interaction, communication, and engagement. Also, it is a common belief that the participants to take part in such events are not that interested in the prize, rather they are more interested in gaining new ideas and knowledge. They are more interested in putting forward their ideas and taking it to the next level, thus proving what they are actually capable of. When you provide them support and help them in their work, you are ensuring that a positive atmosphere is created in the hackathon.

You can achieve this huge engagement and create a bond among the participants by implementing a system that will mentor them and give them guidance. The idea behind this is very simple, assign an experienced person to every team, and he/she will guide them and motivate them. The mentors will motivate and guide the participants and help them develop on their ideas, allowing them to portray it in a more convincing manner. While mentoring is important, there is also a need for technical support for the teams. For example: When a team is working on a mobile application, participants may need a helping hand. Providing technical support shows that you are really interested and concerned about the well-being of the participants and also the projects.


2. Thinking brand name will attract participants

Hackathons are considered as adventures that are both fun to conduct, and they always have a successful outcome. With success, comes pride which is faced by top companies conducting hackathons. This is a bad trait and a trend that is involuntarily followed by the companies and should be avoided at all costs. It does not matter if you are targeting developers, students, consumers, or startups; the brand name or value of your company is not enough to attract people to participate in your events. Even within your own company, it might be difficult to deal with your own employees– many of who would not be interested if the company plans to strive towards success on the basis of its brand name. The quick and ready solution solely depends on how you opt for more practical and goal- oriented methods in order to make them a part of it.



3. Opting for either for a virtual or a complete physical hackathon

Apart from traditional hackathons, there are more effective ways of conducting them:


Online + Onsite (O2O) hackathons:

In this hackathon, it starts with an online and virtual event and ends with a proper event where every participant come together under one roof. The participants get a time frame of two to four months to develop on their ideas. During this preparation time, the mentors are always guiding their team. O2O hackathons have the applicability for most of the business niches concerned. No matter which industry you operate under, the chances of major risk is less. Hackathons create an atmosphere where you get to know more people and network with them. It brings forth the opportunity to know and find out their proficiency level in the technical field and personalities, knowing this is also critical for corporations that are in search of fresh talent!


Launching an organized campaign for the hackathon is very important. Therefore, the firm which attracts the most attention are not always the most well-known companies.

It is vital to reach out to as many people as you can before the initiation of a hackathon in order to motivate the participating candidates. In this way, you can attract the correct individuals from the selected communities of students, developers, startups and corporate employees. This means you must create relationships and collaborate with various business organizations, which cannot be attained overnight. Innovation can be challenging as it requires a lot of time and effort. However, if done right it will certainly be rewarding.



4. Mishandling the final tasks

As you manage hackathon professionally, the participants stay focused and motivated as unique ideas are being realized and applied. But there is just one more thing which is to supervise the closing ceremony without any errors or botches. The closing ceremony is the most important for the innovation test. This is when teams that you have shortlisted come in contact for the first time to execute the projects that they have been working on. To make this ceremony a success, you need a very dynamic host, and ensure that all candidates are prepared to showcase their projects.



5. Lack of experimental thinking

Hackathons in general usually hype up their participants to reach the pinnacle of success. Instead of teaching them to run after success, companies must encourage them to walk on the path of learning and education and to do more of experimental and practical thinking. A hackathon can only be proven to be a successful one if the participants understand the concepts and work towards it innovatively. The company and participants must work towards developing a stronger software or at least something is accessible and workable for people who need it. Try not to turn your valuable hackathon into a telemarketer’s convention. Hype is temporary, but innovation and experimental thinking will definitely bring up the company in good ways.



Being an organizer for a hackathon is not, however, with timely practice and interaction with the audience you will surely gain more confidence in the long run. Your business has a great opportunity to appeal to a specific audience which is interested in the field where you operate under. All you need to do is choose the correct format, and convey your message on a regular basis and on very specific aspects regarding the projects and the ideas of the participants. Provide extended support to every participant and involve people from different backgrounds to form multidisciplinary teams, and finally achieve the best results while you’re up on stage.

About the Author


Hi All, I'm Nicola and I am part of the EuroSTAR team. I enjoy outdoor activities and martial arts, it's fun! I joined EuroSTAR in 2018 and am excited to meet new people every year during the conferences. Tester Friends are for life :)
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