FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
After organizing and running dozens of hackathons, we discovered that the questions are always the same. So, we decided to put the most frequently asked questions together and publish them in one place. Whether you’re a corporate representative or a participant you’ll find almost all the answers below. If something’s missing, don’t hesitate to write us an email, we’ll be happy to give any additional information you didn’t find here.
Questions and answers for Corporates – sponsors of hackathons:
1. Why should we do a hackathon?
- Sourcing innovation
The nature of hacking challenges promotes an out-of-the-box approach to the work-flow. Competitive environment, when followed by an attractive prize, helps develop the best solutions in short periods of time. For large organizations in particular, hackathons can be adapted to greatly accelerate the process of digital transformation. They are less about designing new products and more about “hacking” away those old processes and ways of working.
- A new way of thinking
An internal hackathon can uncover the hidden talent within your organization. The event allows your employees to get out of their daily role and flex their creative muscles. Hosting a hackathon is also recommended if your company needs to think differently about a problem they have been struggling to solve with traditional approaches.
- Promoting diversity and teamwork
Good teams usually consist of team members with diverse backgrounds which enables them to challenge each other and come up with new, innovative ideas. Good communications skills are needed in order for this to happen. Thus it is recommended to make the hackathon open, so that everyone (external and internal) can apply and then form diverse teams to give them the best chance of success.
- Recruiting new talent
When hackathons are not held within the company, but rather open to the public, they turn into a promotional initiative that can be used to scout for new tech talents, recruit programmers, engineers, graphic designers, and others sought after profiles! Hackathons are the ultimate interview. They give you the opportunity to work directly with potential employees and see who is a good cultural fit.
- Employee retention
Employee retention can be another beneficial aspect of hackathons held within a company. Stagnation and a focus on repetitive tasks only are a major reason for employees leaving the company. When presented with an opportunity to broaden their skill set, however, they are inclined to stay in the same company as they are given more than just the pay check. They’re given an opportunity to grow.
- PR and marketing
It is simple; hackathons are great PR and generate easy but great stories to tell. They also help promote products or services of your company to a broader audience.
2. How much time and how many people we need to dedicate to the hackathon?
This is why you have us. We will do most of the work for you. What is expected of you is to take the time to find and properly define a challenge for the Hackathon. We usually do this in 2 half-day live sessions or 3 online sessions of 2 hours. The two most important questions we need to answer before we start is: why are we doing this and what do we expect from it? Then we take over and prepare all the communication, scout for candidates, and do the PR hand in hand with company’s PR department. The only thing the client needs to do before the event is help with the promotion. When the time for the hackathon comes, we need a couple of domain experts as mentors and jury for the event. We take care of all other mentorship. But keep in mind – the best corporate hackathons are the ones where both the management and the employees know why they are doing it. This then leads to high engagement at the hackathon and new product development after the event. Internal buy-in is necessary for a long term effect of a hackathon.
3. So, what do you actually do for the event?
Prior to the event:
- Workshops with the client to determine the challenges and prepare mentors /jury members.
- Design and text for the info web page with application and legal forms – both fully coordinated with the client. We prepare suggestions for the content, the client prepares the description of the challenge and rewards. Web page goes live when the client gives the “green light”.
- Preparation of the contract for the participants that clearly states who owns the IP from the hackathon and also includes GDPR related clauses. This is also submitted to the client for the final confirmation prior to publishing.
- PR communications – traditional and social media plan. Transformation Lighthouse team works hand in hand with the client in order to make the best promotion and attract the best participants. Transformation Lighthouse team also creates contents that are confirmed by the client and distributed through different media.
- Scouting for candidates: including communication with universities, youth organizations, startup community, and others. Due to extreme involvement in the startup ecosystem and youth organizations, Transformation Lighthouse team has a broad network of experienced candidates that is targeted.
- Selection of the participants and team formation: Transformation Lighthouse takes care of the interviews with the candidates, connecting and searching perfect team-fits according to the age, ideas they submit, interests, industry the candidates work in, and compatibility. Diversity in the team is necessary to achieve out-of-the-box solutions. This is why the psychology profiles are also checked. We also invite internal employees to compete, because they usually have a different insight on the topic discussed and bring valuable knowledge to their team. Ideally, we would have teams of 4-6 people, of which at least 1 member comes from the sponsor.
- A mentors’ coaching at least one day before the event: it is necessary that mentors from the client’s company are familiar with the challenge and know the basic rules how to handle teams in order to get the best results. The client has to dedicate at least 4 mentors/jury members that work in the field of the proposed challenge.
- Preparation of the proper content for the competition;
At the event:
- Registration, administration, preparation of the briefings for the teams and mentors / jury members;
- Event space with offices and relax areas;
- Snacks and drinks for both days, pizza and beer for the closing;
- Technical support – projectors, computers for presentation, microphones… and handling of it;
- Motivational activities during the event and our 36-hour presence and support to the teams, including creative team-building games indended to break the flow, raise adrenalin, and profit some hours of work, especially in the night time;
- Mentoring teams which includes preparation of business models, pitching, design thinking specifics, innovation paths and signals of the future, guiding teams to think outside of the box at all times – using the CO*STAR tool from our EDG partners.
- Evaluation of the competitors based on different psychological models that evaluates the candidates’ personal characteristics and potentials to see if there is a fit for future cooperation with you, including possible further development of the hackathon ideas. For that, we have an expert in the field and use our internally developed method – TLI evaluation.
- PR done by Transformation Lighthouse team members and competitors, done through small and fun activities Transformation Lighthouse provides during the hackathon to keep the competitors engaged;
- Diplomas for all the competitors plus 3 kappa plates for the winners for better photos & long lasting memories.
After the event:
- Package of all materials gathered from competitors – the client will get all the presentations, business cases with analysis and everything that competitors submit at the end;
- Evaluation of individuals according to the TLI method for potential future internship or job offering;
- Communication with winning teams;
- Photo album done by a professional photographer;
- A short promo video (approximately 1 min) for further public PR and internal use;
- PR done hand in hand with The Client;
- Preparation and recommendations for next steps
4. What kind of prizes should we offer?
Prizes are of course a great motivator at competitions like hackathons. Make sure you reward at least the first 3 teams (winner and the two runner-ups). Although everyone is fixed on the monetary prizes, keep in mind that non-monetary rewards are a magnet too! Consider what kind of a challenge you’re giving and what is your core business. This can lead to very attractive rewards (e.g. an example how to join a monetary prize and a gadget). You really can’t miss with adding some tech gadgets to the list. Most common reward budget is 5.000 EUR (gross) – including the gadgets and experience rewards. Plus, a job opportunity is not to be neglected.
If you have a chance, don’t forget about the rest of the participants: some T-shirts (by the way, it looks great on the promo video and photos!), pens, water bottles,… everyone appreciates a small goodie bag to take home :).
5. Are competitors really looking for job opportunities?
After running tens of hackathons per year in the last 5 years, we can say that at least 20% of participants are looking for a job opportunity. Hackathons are a great way for competitors to meet executives of the company sponsoring the hackathon. It is a great HR scouting event. Firsly, it is more intense than any job trial period that you have in your company’s hiring process. Secondly, they work under extreme conditions, mostly without sleep. And thirdly, you can always find that talent, that perfect fit for your company. But…there’s a trick. At the same time that you are monitoring them, they are monitoring you too. 😊
And don’t forget, next to your own observation at the hackathon, you’ll also receive an expert evaluation of all participants. The Transformation Lighthouse team evaluates them all individually based on the TLI method and you get these evaluations after the event.
Questions and answers for participants – competitors at hackathons:
1. Can I apply if I’m not looking for a job?
Yes, job opportunity is a side effect. If you have ideas and like to be challenged several times a day and like meeting like-minded people – this is the event for you. But if you find a company sponsoring the event interesting – don’t forget: you just might be a perfect fit for them 😊
2. In the application, you have to describe your idea – how extensive does it have to be?
It is important that you have your idea. In the application, you simply have to explain it in a sentence or two and it will be enough for the start. The proposed idea is a prerequisite for entering the competition, but uniqueness of your idea will bring higher committee attention to it during selection process. So, with a more detailed description of your concept you will have an advantage in the Hackathon participant selection process. Therefore, with no hesitation – share your concepts and ideas, etc. 🙂
3. Will I be working on my own idea?
That isn’t necessary. Actually, it happens quite often that the team develops a mixture of all ideas team members had at the beginning of the Hackathon. This is why the Sponsor and Transformation Lighthouse will jointly select the best ideas and put competitors in teams according to similarity of submitted ideas. However, since you never know, you should continue developing your own idea and create a strategy on how to promote and present it to your team members at the Hackathon. On the day of the competition when you will know who your team members are, you’ll then proceed in one way or another.
4. With whom will I be in the team?
Based on the applications, the committee will select the participants and assemble the teams. Each team will have from 4 – 6 members.
4. Can I apply with a team?
If you already have a team, of course, you can apply together. You have to indicate in the application form that you are applying as a team and who are your team members. However, each member of the team MUST register INDIVIDUALLY, so we can collect all necessary information for further communication to all the contestants. Due to a large number of individuals who apply, it could happen that your team will get some additional members.
5. How old do I need to be to participate?
The only condition is adulthood, therefore, above age of 18 😉 Since this is an extremely creative and dynamic event, it is desired that there is also a diversity of age. So, no matter your age, if you have an idea and you want something new, Hackathon is the right thing for you.
6. What about education?
It is not a prerequisite. It is important that your idea is original. In the competition there are things more important than education. Creativity, originality, the ability to work in a team and openness to new ideas in the competition can take your idea to an entirely different direction than it is at this moment. Understanding of new technologies, experience with industry and knowledge of latest trends within electrical and mechanical engineering, programming will be your advantage.
7. What do I need to bring with me?
Since the Hackathon is of a technical nature, you should bring a laptop or other means that you will be able to work. Since you most likely work with a laptop, the final presentation will be in ppt, keynote or a live demonstration.
8. If I stay overnight, where will I sleep?
On such events there is little rest. The rest corners are arranged (deckchairs and some couches at the venue), while any other form of overnight accommodation is not provided. If you think that you will not need continuous work, you should arrange the accommodation yourself. You should not forget that this is a team competition. You will coordinate everything with your team during the competition 🙂 In any case, bring a blanket, pillow and comfortable clothing. The weekend will be long and a few hours of rest will not hurt 🙂
9. How will it look like? We get the task – what then? Who is responsible for what? How do you develop the idea?
The schedule of the competition is posted on the “Schedule” section of the website, where there is a written detailed course of events. Competitors will get more detailed description of the challenge at the opening of Hackathon, as well learn with whom they are in a group and what their role is in the group. Teams receive guidelines at the beginning in which direction to develop an idea, how they develop it depends on each individual team. During the competition the teams are accompanied all the time by mentors, representatives of the Sponsor Company and Transformation Lighthouse. Mentors are assembled in a way to cover as many segments as possible. They will be guiding you during the competition, if you wander too far with the development of your ideas.
10. What about the final day?
On Sunday afternoon, second day of the hackathon, you submit all the materials and pitch in front of mentors. Each team assessed by the committee, and the 3 winning teams are announced in the same evening.
11. Will we get the chance to develop our idea further?
If you are among winning teams, then you will most probably get that opportunity. The purpose of the hackathon is not only that 2-day event, but also to develop new products and services with and for the company sponsoring the event. After the event, the most promising teams and team members are invited for further cooperation.