Companies across the globe have added hackathons to their roster of annual events to strengthen their corporate community and foster innovation in an engaging and cost-effective way. For employees, participation not only affords them unlimited snacks and beverages throughout the event, but it also bridges the gap between departments, sparks creativity and allows them to work on projects outside of their daily workflow.
Tech companies have begun hosting annual global hackathons and have reaped the benefits of the innovations created—Facebook’s chat feature and OneTravel’s latest groundbreaking mobile feature, Opal, to name a few.
If your company has been toying with the idea of an internal team hackathon, but has no clue where to start, begin with this list of the top five hackathon planning items that every organizer should have on their to-do list.
1. Hack for a purpose, and define your goal.
Before you start planning your hackathon, ask yourself a few questions:
- What would your organization like to accomplish as a result of the event?
- What is the challenge you are trying to solve?
- What do you want to build?
- Would you like to increase employee’s productivity or sales?
Once the goals of the hackathon are determined, the organizers can then decide on a theme and set the rules for the event.
2. Choose a meaningful theme.
Establishing the theme of the hackathon is critical, as it allows participants to come to the event with ideas already formulated based off of the theme. The theme, which should be tied to the goals that were defined, can be data driven or related directly to the overall mission of the company.
3. Establish the rules.
Set the rules for the hackathon in advance of the actual event and display them prominently on the registration form for participants. A few rules to consider include: the technology stack to be used, number of team members on each team and the amount of time the hackathon will last (e.g., 24 hours or 2 days). In addition to defining the rules, include details regarding what the final product will be judged on such as creativity, functionality and design.
4. Select an expert panel of judges.
Choose a panel of judges for the hackathon, ideally your panel should be comprised of a developer who can test the code, marketing professional who can critique the overall presentation, and a UX designer who has a keen eye for the design of a product. Organizations can select internal team members to judge or invite a panel of guest judges to judge the hackathon. For an un-bias and fresh opinion on the products presented, consider selecting a panel of guest judges for a corporate hackathon.
5. Entice and excite the participants.
Hackathon sponsors not only attract participants through a noteworthy theme, but also with the incentives offered throughout the hackathon and the prizes given to the winners. For participation incentives, consider offering catered meals during the hackathon. This will not only attract participants in marketing materials, but it will also help fuel them throughout the event. A few examples of prizes to award include one extra vacation day, catered lunch for the team, or gift certificate in addition to company-wide recognition.
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Fareportal, one of the fastest-growing travel companies in the world, powers hybrid (online/traditional) travel agencies. Utilizing its innovative technology and company owned and operated contact centers; Fareportal offers travelers deals on over 450 airlines, 150,000 hotels and 100s of car rental companies every year. Its portfolio of consumer travel brands includes CheapOair and OneTravel.