Page 13 - Campus Technology, January/February 2020
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Another opportunity for sponsorship lies in developer marketing: “I imagine that many of you have had representatives of major tech companies come to campus to talk about different projects they’re working on,” Gottfried explained. “The same thing happens at hackathons, and it’s generally something that people pay for.”
7) Make the experience special.
“Once you have the sponsors, it’s okay to move on and focus on the experience of the event,” Gottfried said. That is, the prizes, workshops and activities that make the hackathon memorable for participants.
First off, he said, almost every event will have some kind of overall grand prize winner. But it’s also a good idea to award prizes for special categories: “Maybe the best hack from a freshman or newbie, or maybe the best project that addresses a civic tech issue in our city — things that incentivize students to focus on a general area.”
Workshops give participants a chance to learn from their peers or professionals from the community in a one- or two-hour boot camp format. They can cover a wide range of technical topics, from an introduction to iOS and Android to blockchain, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and more. Even a basic workshop on coding can help make participants more comfortable with the hackathon and get them started, Gottfried noted.
A hackathon is really a social experience as much as it’s a learning environment, he added. “We recommend having fun activities to break up the time period of starting at your screen for nine or 12 or 24 hours.” For example, a popular activity is cup stacking, a competition where students race to make towers out of plastic cups. “It’s incredibly fun, really weird to watch, but students get a kick out of it and you can even give a little spot prize for the winner,” Gottfried said.
8) Measure your results.
The top item on MLH’s post-event checklist is to collect evidence of your success. That includes key stats (e.g., attendance numbers), press mentions, tweets, photos and videos. The organization also recommends surveying attendees and sponsors to get their feedback. All these things will help improve and promote your next hackathon.
12-Hour Schedule
9:00 a.m. Registration and breakfast 10:00 a.m. Opening ceremony 11:00 a.m. Workshops
1:00 p.m. Lunch
4:00 p.m. Mini event
6:00 p.m. Dinner
8:00 p.m. Demos and judging
24-Hour Schedule
9:00 a.m. Registration and breakfast 10:00 a.m. Opening ceremony 11:00 a.m. Workshops
1:00 p.m. Lunch
4:00 p.m. Workshops 6:00 p.m. Dinner 9:00 p.m. Mini event
12:00 a.m. Midnight snack 8:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 a.m. Demos and judging
The MLH Hackathon Organizer Guide provides an in-depth playbook on throw- ing a successful hackathon, from locking down a venue to post-event surveys and accounting. It also includes templates, sample documents and links to software tools for managing the event.

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