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9 Strategies for Crushing Your Next Online Hackathon

 Image depicting a company’s team planning and strategizing for their next online hackathon.
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The pandemic necessitated a shift to online hackathons in recent years, and these online events have proven productive and successful. Hackathons have become a cornerstone of developer culture, fostering a sense of community and fun among coders since its inception in 1999, when OpenBSD hosted the first one. The thrill of collaborating with like-minded professionals to solve problems through coding creates a unique and exciting experience.


Just like remote work, online hackathons might lack the in-person energy. However, if companies learn strategies, adapt, and embrace the benefits online hackathons offer, they can be successful and fun. At the end of this article, you will learn 9 key strategies that will ensure the success of the next online hackathon for your company.


Understanding Online Hackathon and Its Benefits

According to Wikipedia, hackathons are events where people collaboratively create a new product in a very short time. They have become the stuff of legends in the legacy world and have now found their way into Web3.


An online hackathon is a competitive event, typically lasting from a few hours to several days, where individuals or teams work collaboratively to create innovative solutions, applications, or products. Participants often include developers, designers, and entrepreneurs who come together to solve specific challenges or problems posed by the organizers which are usually companies. These events are conducted entirely over the Internet, allowing participants from different locations to join remotely. Hackathons are excellent for bolstering startup programs and increasing the number of projects using a specific technology.


For example, a 2 weeks online challenge was conducted on techFiesta for developers to create a basic smart contract for a voting system that allows only registered members to vote and also craft a sophisticated smart contract, necessitating deployment and scriptwriting to access specific variables across multiple tenets. This attracted over 120 hackers who were provided with educational materials and the tools needed to achieve this task, making it a success that had a significant impact on the SwissTronik chain.


The Benefits of Online Hackathon For Companies

While traditional hackathons offer numerous advantages, virtual events add a whole new layer of benefits. Here are four key reasons to consider hosting a virtual hackathon:


  • Cost Savings: Forget venue rentals and catering! With a virtual format, participants work from their own spaces, eliminating venue costs and significantly reducing food expenses. You might still need some online monitoring staff, but the overall cost is much lower.


  • Flexibility for Everyone: Traditional hackathons force participants to adapt to a specific environment. Virtual events allow everyone to work in their ideal comfort zone, be it a cool room or a toasty setup, maximizing individual productivity.


  • Global Reach: Physical location is no longer a barrier! Online hackathons attract participants from around the world, bringing diverse perspectives and a wider talent pool to the challenge. This diversity fosters innovative solutions.


9 Strategies for Crushing Your Next Online Hackathon

A hackathon team registering for an online hackathon they find suitable.

1. Choose an Engaging Topic and Announce your Hackathon in Advance

A compelling topic helps participants prepare mentally before the event and start brainstorming ideas. It also facilitates smoother collaboration among unfamiliar participants and company employees alike. The primary aim is to develop a creative solution to a problem or challenge, focusing instead on team spirit, taking on unfamiliar tasks, and assuming new roles. This approach fosters strong connections among team members, which can significantly reduce the silo mentality within a company. 


Also, to ensure a successful hackathon, announce the hackathon well in advance for participant planning and registration. Internal promotion can be done through newsletters and emails, while external promotion requires a longer lead time. Utilize your website, press releases, social media posts, industry publications, and relevant online platforms like Eventbrite or Meetup to spread the word. 


2. Create a Beginner-Friendly Hackathon 

Ensuring your hackathon is accessible to beginners is essential for maximizing participation and the number of project submissions. To attract a broader audience and make sure no one feels excluded, consider simplifying various aspects of your hackathon. This includes keeping the main project requirement and theme straightforward, as each additional layer of complexity demands more learning time and commitment, potentially deterring participants. Provide ample technical resources, such as example project code and real-time chat support, to help beginners overcome technical challenges. 


Additionally, offer other helpful resources like relevant project ideas and problem statements to inspire participants and give them a clear starting point.


3. Utilize a Hackathon Provider to Increase Reach and Participation

Organizing and managing online hackathons involves a significant amount of work. While you could manage everything internally, outsourcing can save you considerable time and resources. Online hackathon providers like techFiesta can serve as the infrastructure platform for your next hackathon. The hackers will be able to view all hackathon details and submit their projects. At the same time, the hackathon sponsors can review the submissions and all hackathon KPIs on their techFiesta dashboard. techFiesta also provides a payment processing option for the hackathon bounties on a chain.


One of the significant benefits of using a hackathon provider is the ability to leverage a team of experienced hackathon project managers. These professionals bring expertise and can handle the day-to-day management of the event, allowing you to focus on other priorities. Also, they assist with marketing efforts by tapping into a developer community of millions of users, ensuring your hackathon reaches a broad and engaged audience.


4. Organizing teams

In preparation for the hackathon, distribute clear and user-friendly sign-up forms to help organize participants into effective teams. These forms should gather information about each participant’s interests, skills, and experiences, enabling you to create well-balanced teams with diverse backgrounds and complementary strengths. Consider setting up initial online meet-and-greet sessions. These pre-event interactions can help build rapport and team cohesion, making the actual hackathon experience smoother and more productive.


Also, provides teams with resources and guidelines on effective collaboration. Share tips on communication tools, project management techniques, and conflict resolution strategies. By equipping teams with these tools, you enhance their ability to work together efficiently and creatively.


5. Plan, Test, and Set a Timeline

Essential elements include clear rules and an enticing prize for the competition. Hackathons can range from a single day to several days, so it's vital to ensure there is adequate time and technical equipment needed for participants to thrive throughout the hackathon.

This can boost the creativity and productivity of teams. It’s e online, and focus your advertising efforts on platforms like;


  • Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are excellent choices for reaching a broad audience quickly. These platforms not only offer extensive reach but also enable users to share your promotional content, further expanding your event’s visibility.


  • Online communities and forums related to technology, coding, and innovation. Websites like Reddit, Stack Overflow, and specialized tech forums can be valuable for targeting niche audiences who are likely to be interested in your hackathon. Engage with these communities by posting about your event and encouraging members to participate.


  • Email marketing is another effective strategy. Send personalized invitations to your existing network, including past participants, industry contacts, and relevant mailing lists. Ensure your emails are engaging and communicate the event's details, objectives, and registration process. 


  • Influential figures: Partnering with influential figures in the tech community can boost your promotion efforts. Collaborate with tech bloggers, Twitter influencers, and organizations like techFiesta to help spread the word. These partnerships can lend credibility to your event and attract more participants.


  • Content marketing. Create blog posts, videos, and infographics that highlight the benefits of participating in your hackathon. Share success stories from previous events, showcase the prizes, and provide sneak peeks of the event agenda. By creating engaging and informative content, you can generate excitement and interest in your hackathon.


6. Share Hackaton Activities

To encourage engagement and social sharing, create a unique hashtag during the event. This hashtag allows participants to share their experiences during and after the hackathon, helping to build a sense of community and extend the event's reach. Participants’ posts can generate excitement and interest, potentially attracting more attendees to your future hackathons.


7. After Hackathon Activities

After the hackathon, have a feedback form for participants to complete. This form should collect information on what they enjoyed, areas for improvement, and suggestions for future events. This feedback can help you plan and improve future hackathons. Analyze the suggestions provided to make adjustments. Consider implementing a follow-up strategy to maintain engagement with participants. Send a thank-you email to all attendees, acknowledging their contributions and sharing highlights from the event. Include links to photos, videos, and media coverage, and remind them to use the event hashtag to keep the conversation going.


Showcase the outcomes and successes of the hackathon on your company’s website and social media channels. Highlight winning projects, innovative ideas, and participant testimonials. Organize a post-event meet-up or virtual session where participants can discuss their experiences and network further. This fosters a lasting community and keeps the momentum from the hackathon going.


4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hosting Remote Hackathons

To avoid potential pitfalls when organizing and hosting a hackathon. Below are 4 mistakes to steer clear of and how to prevent or rectify them:


Mistake 1: Not Using a Suitable Hackathon Platform

A hackathon involves multiple complexities, making it beneficial to rely on expert platforms. However, selecting the right platform that aligns with your specific needs is equally important to ensure active participant engagement.


Prevention/Resolution

Choose a platform like techFiesta that can facilitate easy team formation and submission of final projects. Ensure the platform offers features such as streamlined team management, access to participant information, and the ability to evaluate projects and assign scores. Additionally, plan activities like quizzes or polls to maintain participant engagement throughout the virtual event.


Mistake 2: Inadequate Communication

All communications related to your hackathon must be crystal clear right from the start. Confusing directions or advertisements can deter potential participants from signing up.


Prevention/Resolution 

To prevent this, establish a clear end goal from the beginning. Create a comprehensive FAQ page addressing anticipated questions. Seek input from colleagues outside the hackathon team to identify potential queries for inclusion in the FAQ.


Mistake 3: Overlooking Incentives: Recognition and rewards are essential motivators in hackathons. Failing to provide appropriate incentives can diminish participant enthusiasm and effort.


Prevention/Resolution

During the initial planning stages, decide on suitable prizes. For instance, if you're a software company, offering a free version of your software to the winner could be enticing. Collaborate with your hackathon platform provider for additional prize ideas and incentives to boost participant interest.


Mistake 4: Ineffective Hackathon Descriptions: Inadequate or unclear hackathon descriptions can fail to capture the interest of potential participants, particularly developers. If the description does not effectively communicate what participants will gain beyond prizes, it may result in lower sign-up rates.


Prevention/Resolution

When crafting hackathon descriptions, prioritize clarity and informativeness. Tailor the description to developers' interests by highlighting technical aspects, learning opportunities, and unique benefits of participating. Be concise yet comprehensive, providing specifics on what participants will achieve and the resources available to them. Ensure the description clearly outlines the task requirements and how participants can complete them.


4 Cool Web3 Online Hackathon Ideas for a Thriving Virtual Event

Web3 technology is rapidly evolving, and online hackathons can be a fantastic platform to explore its potential. Here are 4 exciting Web3 hackathon ideas to ignite innovation in your virtual event:


1. Metaverse Marketplace Mashup:

  • Theme: Create a next-generation, interoperable marketplace for the metaverse. Integrate NFTs, DeFi protocols, and virtual world experiences seamlessly.

  • Potential Projects: Develop a decentralized marketplace where users can buy, sell, and trade NFTs across different metaverse platforms. 

Design a DeFi lending and borrowing system specifically for metaverse assets like virtual land or wearables. Build an interoperable payment system that allows users to transact seamlessly within various metaverse experiences.

  • Why it's cool: This hackathon delves into the future of digital ownership and commerce within the metaverse. Winning projects could pave the way for a more unified and user-friendly metaverse experience.


2. Social Impact DAOs for Sustainability:

  • Theme: Develop innovative Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) that address environmental or social sustainability challenges.

  • Potential Projects: Design a DAO that allows individuals to pool resources and collectively invest in renewable energy projects. 

Build a platform for community-driven DAOs tackling issues like deforestation or ocean pollution. 

Create an educational platform that gamifies DAO participation and fosters awareness about Web3 solutions for sustainability.

  • Why it's cool: This hackathon combines Web3 technology with a crucial global issue – sustainability. The winning projects could have a real-world impact by mobilizing resources and fostering community action.


3. Web3 for Music: Empowering the Artists:

  • Theme: Design innovative solutions using Web3 concepts to empower musicians and revolutionize the music industry.

  • Potential Projects: Develop a platform that allows artists to directly sell their music as NFTs, bypassing traditional intermediaries. 

Create a DAO-based music streaming service where artists are directly compensated for their work. 

Build a social network on the blockchain that connects fans directly with their favorite musicians, fostering a more equitable revenue model.

  • Why it's cool: This hackathon tackles a long-standing issue in the music industry – artist compensation. Winning projects could empower musicians and create a fairer and more transparent system for music creation and distribution.


4. Decentralized Identity on the Blockchain:

  • Theme: Develop secure and user-controlled identity solutions utilizing Web3 technologies.

  • Potential Projects: Design a self-sovereign identity (SSI) platform on the blockchain that allows users to control their data and share it securely with different entities. 

Build a decentralized verification system for credentials like educational certificates or work experience, eliminating the need for centralized authorities. 

Create a user-friendly interface for individuals to manage their digital identities on the blockchain.

  • Why it's cool: This hackathon addresses a critical issue in the digital age – data privacy and control. Winning projects could pave the way for a more secure and user-centric approach to online identity management.


Conclusion

Participating in an online hackathon can be a transformative experience for companies, driving innovation and uncovering new opportunities. By implementing these nine strategies, your company can enhance its performance and maximize the benefits of your next online hackathon. Remember, success in a hackathon is not just about winning; it’s about learning, innovating, and building a collaborative and creative culture within your organization.


Are you looking to attract the right Developers through a hackathon? techFiesta is your best bet. 


Companies that host events on techFiesta have the opportunity to work with a diverse and talented group of tech innovators, harnessing their fresh and inventive ideas to fuel growth and success for companies. With over 9,000 users building projects for blockchain protocols and infrastructure companies. Companies launch hackathons, developer challenges, and crowd tasks on techFiesta. Over 350 projects have been built, and $280K+ has been paid in bounties. 


To further help you make smarter hiring decisions, our new Soulbound tokens feature offers new possibilities for ownership, verification, and trust in the digital domain of CVs and credentials. 


About EkoLance

EkoLance revolutionizes the future of work by empowering professionals in Web2 and the blockchain industry. EkoLance has two products: an educational platform with training programs for upskilling in the blockchain space and a talent platform called techFiesta, where companies launch hackathons and developer challenges. EkoLance has a community of over 9,000 blockchain professionals.

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