Hackathons get more and more popular. Unfortunately, a lot of organizers face difficulties when preparing their event. The free Hackathon Canvas has been designed to make the preparation simpler. In 30 minutes, organizers can challenge their event to save time and energy, and maximize the added value of the event.
Long live hackathons!
In Belgium, more than 10 public events are planned every year. Fans of hackathons gather in communities like Hackathon Belgium or Bruxelles Economie Collaborative Hackathon. You can join more than 100 international Meetup communities about hackathons on meetup.com.
To encourage hackathon organizers, Brussels has launched a call for projects in 2016 to foster the organization of hackathons.
A typical hackathon is a two-day workshop where attendees form teams to build solutions together.
In a mindset of positive competition, teams go as far as possible to design, prototype and deliver concrete results in a time-boxed marathon. At the end of the event, teams present their results to others or a panel of judges.
Common pitfalls when organizing a hackathon
Unfortunately, some hackathons have failed miserably.
Organizing such events is not simple. In the past 5 years, I met a lot of motivated people facing difficulties and obstacles when organizing their own hackathons. Whatever the type, goal, and size of the event, typical pitfalls could have been avoided with a better preparation.
Wrong focus, unadapted preparation or lack of resources can lead to catastrophic scenarios. 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.
Top 10 pitfalls
Which pitfalls and mistakes accelerate this negative cycle ? Here is a top 10 list, with brief examples.
|No clear purpose.||‘Let’s plan a hackathon because it’s hype.’|
|No preparation about what happens after the event.||‘Thank you for your demo. Goodbye!’|
|No communication strategy.||‘Just set up a registration page and wait for attendees to come.’|
|No clue regarding participants’ profiles.||‘Everyone is welcome.’|
|Poor results (slide decks instead of prototypes).||‘Attendees will present something cool.’|
|Bad estimation of the resources needed.||‘Preparation is a 2 hours meeting.’|
|Confusing objectives for organizers and attendees.||Organizers’ objective is to motivate attendees. Attendees’ objective is to create prototypes.|
|Partners are involved but not committed.||‘Venue’s guys changed their minds the week before the event.’|
|No clear event goal.||‘We want attendees to create stuffs with us.’|
|Egocentric. No empathy for attendees.||A public hackathon where attendees work for a for-profit company for free.|
Avoid pitfalls with the Hackathon Canvas
The Hackathon Canvas is a visual tool like the Business Model Canvas or Project Canvas. You can print it and use it with sticky notes.
Using the canvas, you can prepare or challenge an event in 30 minutes, share your vision, design your strategy, improve your hackathon, and make a creative event.
The 7 blocks help you to cover the main topics to organize your hackathon:
- Hackathon Goals
- Hackathon Type
- Key Results
- Attendees’ Value Proposition
- Key Partners
- Key Resources
Each block contains the right questions and real examples to guide you. In 30 minutes, you structure the concept of your hackathon, define your action plan and prepare a fantastic event.
More info and guideline : http://hackathoncanvas.co
Where does it come from? Why is it free?
I support initiatives that contribute to a global mission, serve a community or disrupt a status quo with collaborative teamwork as, for instance, Startup Weekend. With about 15 events per weekend all around the world, these community-based events are certainly the most popular hackathons-for-entrepreneurs models. I also animate private, public and company hackathons around Europe.
I collected the best practices from 50 hackathons and co-creation seminars I have been involved in, combining different experiments’ results and lessons learned. Step by step, I created the Hackathon Canvas to help organizers ask themselves the right questions and avoid common pitfalls.
This canvas is under Creative Common license. It’s free and open for everyone.
Any organizing team can use it for any kind of event like company, private or public events.
Give a feedback
This version is a work in progress. Feel free to send me your feedback based on your experience. I created a feedback form to collect suggestions, remarks and crazy ideas.