The actual hackathon, where the magic happens! Every hackathon is an original, you can tailor it to any circumstance. Read more to find out how you secure sweet hackathon results, that make this format stand out from your average brainstorm or pressure cooker session.
On you marks, get set, go!
The coding start now! A hackathon is a marathon, it’s a contest, it’s a race against the clock! This phase is the actual hack event where the magic happens - ideas are materialized, connections are made, code is typed and prototypes are built.
Our suggestion is to do this on location as much as possible. It makes it really appealing when coders can have a feel for the type of context your solution will work in. Hence the ability to test something on a machine (aka. tractor) while writing lines of code of great added value.
FarmHacks tend to last 30 to 32 hours. It’s a two day commitment that is do-able for participants (especially when you opt for the combination of a weekday and part of the weekend). It is in our belief the miminum amount of time needed to come up with data driven solutions. That said: there is no given rule for the duration of a hackathon. Depending on the circumstances, a hackathon can also last a day, or three, or even a week.
If you have read the past steps of the guide you are on-route to start out with well prepared challenges and data. At the hackathon you offer the challenges to participants. This is done with pitches by the challenge owner(s) who present their question and supporting data.
Following the problem pitches, you facilitate an ideation session (we usually refer to this as a World Cafe) to deepdive the challenges in an interactive way. We tend to organise this session in multiple rounds, to allow participants to deepdive multiple challenges. As such the ideation sessions simultaneously function as a means to support team formation, as participants will start to organically cluster around the challenge of their interest to explore it further.
(PS. check our online registration process available in the Fast Track documentation to see how we facilitate participants to choose a challenge before the hackathon. In some cases you might even opt for organising team formation and ideation by the teams before the actual hackathon).
Before lunch you do a quick round in which preferably the challenge owners themselves give a recap of what happened during the ideation sessions. This recap is another step for participants to navigate their options and make up their mind. You then allow people the duration of the lunch to make up their mind. As the organizer you actively coach any one individual who is not clear on which challenge to commit to.
After lunch there are still around 24 hours to code and build a prototype. The rest of the first day therefore offers dedicated hack time, occasionally interrupted for inspiration (intervision, expert consultation). In this manner, an idea will be distilled followed by prototype building.
During dinner time, participants have an opportunity to interact, informally pitch their ideas and get some valuable feedback. After dinner there will be moonlight hacking.
The next day starts with mid-term pitches. This is a space dedicated for peer-to-peer insights; it helps with group cohesion, and as a practice before the final pitch time. The following agenda item, is mentoring with business development coaches. A great bonus is that the business coach can listen-in to the midterm pitches. Doing so provides him/her with an accurate standpoint to mentor the teams. After coaching, there is more hack time where teams will code their way to their set end point.
Then the room is sparked by energetic pitches and judging. All teams will present their proof of concept, prototype or mock up to a jury of esteemed partners and experts. After a short deliberation, the pitches are followed by an award ceremony. Followed eternal glory (for some) with the selection of the hackathon winner.
See here a sample 2-day program.