11 Great Things To Prepare For Before A Hackathon

3 Mins read

What are the things to prepare for before a hackathon? Hosting a hackathon can be a lot of fun and rewarding, but it’s also easy to make some mistakes that could cost hours in lost time. Here are some things you should consider when preparing for your hackathon.

Things To Prepare For Before A Hackathon

1) Have an idea before you start developing your project.

Think through the end result. Is it a piece of hardware or software? A kit you can assemble? An app that works on a mobile device? Does it user something new to the market, or is it something that already exists but needs some tweaks for your project?
Everything about your hackathon should be focused on the end goal, not just the project itself. Good planning goes beyond just what you’re building and how you’ll be presenting it, but also about how others will interact with your project.

3) Have a web page with details about the event

Having a web page dedicated to your hackathon will help not only with recruiting, but also it will provide a central location for all your other resources.

4) Choose the right location

Do everything you can to make sure the venue is capable of hosting your event: use their electricity if necessary, be clear about what kinds of electrical outlets are in place, etc. This should be done before accepting teams so that there’s no confusion on what to prepare.

5) Have a well defined theme

Have a theme that :

  • Ensuring the end result is something people will want. You’re hosting a hackathon to promote your product, not just to build some cool thing.
  • Is short enough that you can communicate it in 2 or 3 words.
  • Can be communicated quickly in presentations, a banner, video and sponsor kit.
  • Makes sense with the project’s purpose and the way you’ll present it (let’s say your company makes motors for robots; a theme of “science fiction” might not be the best fit).

6) Have a good selection of prizes

Each of the prizes should represent a different skill set. Ideally, there is something for the coders, hardware people, and those who are good at presenting. Of course, it’s also nice to have some independent (non-sponsor) prize options so that your community can suggest their own prizes.

Don’t force your sponsors to be able to offer cash or gift certificates for their prizes. Some will happily give away something from one of their products; others will ask you to incorporate their product somehow into your hackathon or do some sort of promotion for them (for example – A free premium account for all participants).

7) Have a budget estimate and a budget

Ideally, your budget should be enough to cover all the day’s expenses (food, bursar, materials), and have some leftovers to either give to participants or give away as prizes. Be sure that you know how much money will be needed for every day of the event. Prepare a report with an estimate of your projected costs so that you can be prepared with cash on hand (or access to credit cards)

8) Look for sponsors

  • Make sure you have a good diverse mix of sponsors that offer different products
  • Use your network to find potential sponsors (friends, family, previous employers, colleagues) and ask them to spread the word about your event.
  • Do whatever you can to get them interested in sponsoring the event. Depending on the industry or product, this could be free promotion or access to a new audience.

9) Be open and honest with potential participants

Ask good questions before accepting their application – what are they looking for? Are they just looking for free food or something more tangible? Consider this when setting your price range and prizes.

10) Be flexible with time slots Early bird.

Early and late-night slots are sometimes needed depending on how many people sign up and what is available in terms of space. If you have a detailed budget and know your venue has space for a second day, then it’s fine to have a fee waiver. If not, you might be better off charging a little extra.

11) Have access to some kind of communication system

If the event is lasting long enough (several days), consider bringing in public transport or renting some sort of vehicle that will allow the teams to come and go as they please.


Try not to worry about problems that might not happen, and don’t forget about the little details about the hackathon (such as testing your hardware and software).

As long as you follow the steps above, you should have everything covered – just relax, enjoy working with others on awesome projects, and make sure you give your sponsors some time during your presentation so they can share what their company has been working on.

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