• How to organize a great hackathon ? The top 10 mistakes to avoid

    by Michel Duchateau





    You wanto organize your own hackathon ? Whether private or public, innovation-related or business oriented, there are a few things you need to know in order not to prevent to make mistakes or tfail this new adventure !


    When organizing their own hackathons, a lot of motivated people are facing difficulties and obstacles. Wrong focus, weak preparation or lack of resources can lead to catastrophic scenarios for instance. In worst cases, after having wasted resources and spent valuable time preparing the event, the organizers need to handle a nightmare cycle leading to disappointment and demotivation. The organizer’s nightmare is a cycle of misfortunes where they lose credibility, attendees get frustrated, sponsors are disappointed and the brand’s reputation is damaged.


    Whatever the type, goal, and size of the event, typical pitfalls could be or could have been avoided with a better preparation. Which pitfalls and mistakes accelerate this negative cycle? Here is a top 10 list, with brief examples you should avoid.



    Number 1 –  No clear purpose

    Sometimes, we have people that just want to organize hackathons because it’s hype. But they don’t know why they organize it. Their purpose is not settled. This has to be decided before starting the organization.




    Number 2 – No preparation about what happens after the event.

    “Thank you for your demo. Goodbye!” The “after” event is as important as the before-event and the event itself.



    Number 3 – No communication strategy.

    It’s important to have a whole communication strategy in order to bring people to your event and not only a registration page online.




    Number 4 – No clue regarding participants’ profiles.

    ‘We target everyone” is not an answer. Who do you want to target ? For whom your event is organized ?



    Number 5 – Poor results (slide decks instead of prototypes).

    Don’t wait that your attendees present something cool but make sure they can realize a real prototype of their project.




    Number 6 Bad estimation of the resources needed.

    The preparation way ahead of the event is important, not a 2 hours meeting. And of course during the event itself everything has to be calculated.



    Number 7 – Confusing objectives for organizers and attendees.

    Objectives have to be clear for everyone.




    Number 8 – Partners and community are involved but not committed.

    Everyone is involved and committed. No changing of mind a week before the event. Its important to make sure everyone as understood this.



    Number 9 –  No clear event goal.

    ‘We want attendees to create stuffs.’ It’s necessary to set up the goal everyone has to achieve by the end of the hackathons.



    Number 10 – Egocentric.

    No empathy for attendees. For example, this could be a public hackathon where attendees work for a for- profit company for free.


    One or – maybe – several examples are reminding you something?  You would like to go further and know how you can concretely prevent these pitfalls?



    Convidencia has made a great job by analysing more than 130 hackathons in Belgium and abroad. All their analysis and results is gathered in one free study.

    And guess what, this study is available for you at the following link : http://bit.ly/StudyPublicHackathons