6 points for running a hackathon successfully

THU, MAY 30, 2019


What is a hackathon?

"Hackathon" is a coined word made by combining "hacking (making use of technical knowledge and skills)" and "marathon." Generally, it started as software developers focusing on group work such as developing programs or coming up with proposals for services in a short period of time and competing with those technical skills and ideas.

Up until now, functions such as Facebook "likes" and social media "chats" and "timelines" are known for having been born as ideas in hackathons.

Now, hackathons that make use of that scheme and involve people active in various regions have permeated the scene as an event that creates results that exceed expectations, such as employing external ideas to solve corporations' problems or for new businesses.

Why are hackathons appealing?

In a hackathon, participants must make use of the given theme and time to gather each person's ideas and skills to create results. The act of repeating brush-ups, closing up gaps, and aiming for realizable output in a short time not only stimulates creativity but is also a perfect environment for improving communication skills.

Also, another charm lies in the business opportunities to widen one's scope of work through encounters with event members.

These people are making use of hackathons

  • Those in charge of new ventures who want to encounter new ideas and talents
  • Those in charge of product development who want to create new products with unprecedented perspectives
  • Accelerators and incubators who want to increase the number of external relevant parties and create new businesses

In this manner, while hackathons are becoming more well-known, how should one organize it so that it is a better event? Today, I will tell you the specific procedure to go about doing it and what to focus on.

Point1:What goal do you want to share? Decide on the event theme
Point2:One of the participants' motivations, decide what kind of external guests to invite
Point3:PR activities to recruit excellent participants
Point4:Those who conquer advance preparations conquer the hackathon
Point5:Don't forget to plan the closing party, where there are the most opportunities for interaction
Point6:Follow up on brush-ups even after the event ends

Point1:What goal do you want to share? Decide on the event theme

When organizing a hackathon, setting a theme is extremely important. How will you connect the things and encounters born through the hackathon to the future? Spend some time planning in detail. Set a theme that makes the personnel from the region that you want to call in interested and excited. Engage in fieldwork, etc. in advance so that you will be more familiar with the theme.

"We want to think about the value, etc. of future transport methods and vehicles with citizens"
Let's think about the new "mobility service" of the area of Shibuya that supports our future lifestyle
Recruiting participants for the "New Here ✕ SHIBUTA" "mobility service" ideathon!

"Create new encounters with crafts business people and creators who possess precision cutting technology"
Suwa, Nagano Prefecture has the most cutting edge precision cutting technology in the country. Let us organize a revolutionary hackathon making use of that technology in "mini four-wheel drives"

"We want to create a community that revitalizes the region"
Involve not just artists, engineers, and corporations, but also the region's universities and students, residents, authorities, and so on to widen the possibilities of new artistic expressions
KENPOKU Art Hack Day

Point2:One of the participants' motivations, decide what kind of external guests to invite

What also leads to increasing participants' motivation is the lineup of external guests. Having a point of contact with guests activate on the front lines of the industry in line with the theme also leads to a motive to participate. When organizing a hackathon, please undertake the invitation of guests.

Point3:PR activities to recruit excellent participants. The key to success is diverse and excellent participants!

What can also be said to the key to a successful hackathon is securing diverse participants. To encourage the participation of people from various backgrounds such as artists, designers, engineers, and planners, proactively make announcements in advance on websites, social media, flyers, and so on.

Also, it is important for the organizer himself to take the initiative to constantly work on his network and courteously and directly approach people.

Point4:Those who conquer advance preparations conquer the hackathon

Once the outline of the event has been confirmed, decide on the program of the actual day. Refer to the following list when making preparations in line with the theme.

<An orthodox task list>

○Advance preparations

□Creation of the theme, outline, and agreement
□Select a venue→whether Wifi can be used and whether the space is enough
□Assignment of facilitators and external guests
□Arrangement of support staff, people to make records, etc.
□Publicity activities→approach the media, social media, flyers, approach those who you want to participate, etc.
□Requests to supporting corporations
□Creation of design tools→novelty goods and flyers, T-shirts to wear on the day itself, etc.
□Preparation of awards (trophies, honorable certificates),  prize money, etc.
□Splitting applicants into teams→decide whether to split them into teams in advance or on the day itself
□Preparation of materials and writing implements

○For running the day itself
□Preparations for the reception→participant list, name tags, etc.
□Input seminar→Tell them the results that you want to connect it to and have them understand the theme more deeply
□Icebreaking→Calm the participants' nerves and create an atmosphere that encourages communication
□Idea creation→Tell them in what form they will make their ideas take shape
□Presentation of midway progress→Set time for a midway report and mutual feedback and create time to conduct a progress report in front of other participants, judges, and mentors
□Final presentation→Decide on the format of the final presentation, whether the presentation will be with a prototype or materials
□Survey→As a reference when organizing the next event

□Assignment of reception and venue guides
□Arrangement of meals
□Preparation of tea and sweets
□Preparation of the closing party venue

<Model schedule>

Point5:Don't forget to plan the closing party, where there are the most opportunities for interaction

During the hackathon, even though the team members are working together, they do not have much time to slowly foster friendly relationships. It is even more so when it comes to other team members.

They are participating as they are interested in the same theme, so to deepen their future relationships, after the hackathon ends, hold a closing party and proactively create opportunities for interaction. Do not forget the commemorative photo shoot as proof of their participation as well.

Point6:Follow up on brush-ups even after the event ends

In a hackathon, which is held in a limited period of time, it is difficult to create complete things and services as output. For more brush-ups and to encourage continual activities as a team, it is important for the organizer to contact the participants after the event and follow up with them.

A direct message from an experienced hackathon organizer

Hackathons are where people who are involved in diverse crafts gather together and create something to fulfill a challenge. If you just leave everything to the participants, you cannot expect good output. The amount of preparation in supporting good output greatly influences the quality of the end result.
I will not introduce some things that I never yield on when organizing a hackathon.

<Things to bear in mind for hackathons>

  • Be sure to create time to input case introductions, tours, advance talk events, and so on
  • Invite mentors (pros in that field) to support creations and create a system so that they can provide support at any time
  • For long-haul events, put effort into meals and breaks as well, such as exciting catering, hand-rolled sushi made as a team, and so on

Please add in fun features such as those above to increase participants' motivation when designing your hackathon. (AWRD editing department/Eri Matsuda) 

Responsible for the project: Tekkojima Idea Jamboree

What is “AWRD”, a service perfect for operating hackathon?

There are many things to think about and it seems difficult to run as well. In such times, please make use of "AWRD"'s service. You can trust "AWRD" to take care of everything from appropriate event design to office management.

Other than the various key points that I have explained thus far, based on the operating achievements of the various "open innovation" projects under the operating company Loftwork, we will realize a made-to-order hackathon that fulfills your requirements and lead it to produce results.

The benefits of AWRD

  • For use in branding and PR

AWRD can be used as an opportunity to publicize your company's activities toward the media, as well as create contact points with users through methods such as application announcements, application information sessions, and announcement of winning submissions.

  • A creator network with approximately 70,000 members  

AWRD has a network comprised of around 30,000 registered creators and around 40,000 people based around FabCafe Global. Depending on your goals, you can narrow down your targets further and approach the most appropriate people.

  • Share the progress of the creation as a team 

In a hackathon, multiple people form a team and sometimes give feedback for the output on the spot before progressing to the judging. In such times, AWRD's application form can be used. Both individuals and teams can post their digitized creation. The posted creation can be shared with each team and discussed while leading to brushing up the creation. (The teams' posts of their creations can only be viewed)

  • Using data for the presentation   

Connecting a creation uploaded to AWRD's creation summary to a monitor will make it possible to be used as materials for the presentation. Please make use of this for the midway presentation and final presentation.

AWRD makes it easy to create a management system and maintain an application website for your award competition

Recruitment advertisements, application reception, submission management, online judging, and result announcements can all be brought together through a single online system. There’s no need to create a website from scratch. In less than one day, we can release a site where applicants and judges can participate from anywhere in the world. We don’t charge expensive monthly server use fees, allowing you to keep your costs down.
You can also choose our AWRD “PRO plan” starting from about 150,000 yen a month if you only want to use the system.

How was it? There are a number of tips for putting on a Hackathon. Please use these tips as reference when planning your own event.

Click here for examples of award competitions that used AWRD
*You will be brought to the website of Loft Work, AWRD’s managing company 

AWRD supports the creation of new value as a platform that gives birth to sympathy and co-creation through award competitions!

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