People come to me all the time expressing interest in throwing their own hackathon. It’s nearly always a great idea to throw a hackathon. The hard part is actually doing it right.
The first and most important step in planning a successful hackathon:
The Team, The Team, The Team
You’ll need to do a ton of things to throw a good hackathon: book a venue, drum up interest from attendees and sponsors, make a last minute costco run for snacks and caffeine, negotiate with catering companies, and more.
Most importantly, you’ll need to build a team.
The team will define what your hackathon will look like in a few months.
They will be on the ground with you for an entire weekend as you try to keep the event from falling apart on close to zero sleep.
Your team will have your back when that sponsor falls through or when you find out that the airbeds you ordered aren’t going to come in until Monday.
The team is everything.
Want to throw a hackathon?
The first question you need to ask yourself: “why am I doing this?”
In my experience, what really separates a good hackathon from a great one is the vision of the team. Are they just throwing an EPIC one-off event or are they changing people’s lives?
When Adam and I decided to bring on Tom Erdmann and Dan Friedman to start MHacks with us, we immediately sent them both a text that read something like:
“Want to do something HUGE with your life for the next few months?
Come to 600 E Washington St. We are going to change Michigan forever.
It’s easy to forget how powerful hackathons are. Going to my first hackathon completely altered the course of my life.
Establish a vision for why you are throwing a hackathon. If people don’t think you are absolutely nuts after hearing why you’re throwing this hackathon, your vision probably isn’t radical enough.
Always be selling the vision
Without any single member of the original MHacks team, the event would have fallen to pieces. The team is everything.
Establish your vision.
Share it with everyone.
Make sure there’s always room on the team for anyone who wants to help.
Join our TechMeetups London Hackathon #TMUhack @London, United Kingdom