The Marketer’s Information To Innovation With Hackathons

Hackathons have been the bastion of engineers for thus lengthy! Considered an occasion that’s proper up their alley; engineers and builders have virtually staked their declare to it.

Having witnessed numerous profitable hackathons for nearly 3 years since I work for HackerEarth which presents hackathon software program for organizations, I had a robust feeling that the format would work wonders for entrepreneurs as nicely. The motive was the construction of the format which allowed contributors to resolve urgent points and churn out new concepts to attain the targets… each non-negotiable for any advertising and marketing perform to succeed.

In my thoughts I had clear targets to create affect for the enterprise,  however in the identical breath I used to be barely not sure as a result of I had by no means tried the format at first hand.

So right here I’m, having concluded a hackathon with a workforce of 25 entrepreneurs at HackerEarth, able to share an sincere case with all development hackers and entrepreneurs to find out if hackathons are worthy a instrument to discover and what issues they’ll actually clear up with it. I may even focus on my learnings, errors, dos & don’ts, and, above all, insights on how and when hackathons can change into helpful ammunition for entrepreneurs.

Simply put, a “hack” & a “thon” is what makes a hackathon. While we perceive the time period hack; a “thon” means an occasion or a contest with an goal of reaching a purpose inside an unspecified period.

But truthfully, what pulled me to the concept of a hackathon is that this deep-rooted perception that extraordinary issues might be delivered in a brief period. It was not troublesome to understand that the genesis of this perception got here from two integral constituents of a hackathon — “autonomy” and “learning.” To perceive the context higher, autonomy makes us really feel that we’re the “masters” of our personal ship, and in flip instills  a way of “ownership and responsibility” in us, serving to to navigate our ship with due care to its vacation spot. Autonomy can also be in regards to the little insurgent in us, who likes to experiment unbridled with out being questioned. And this in flip breeds “creativity and purpose.”

Above all, the quick period of the hackathon breeds urgency, a single-minded focus, and involvement which results in “try fast and fail” strategy and brings out the true hustler inside us. All this finally results in “intense learning” in a short while span, which is rewarding and immensely satisfying for contributors.

Another level in regards to the phrase “thon” might have readability. While hackathon is run for a selected period, say 24 to 48 hours, the definition of the time period has “unspecified duration” sure to it. This is as a result of the goal of a hackathon is to construct one thing inside a brief period. But extra usually that not, the hacks don’t get absolutely accomplished throughout the occasion and this incomplete hack (or name it WIP prototype) is attended to after the hackathon is over. So, in that sense, the period is unspecified as a result of the hacks get absolutely accomplished after the Hackathon will get over.

The hackathon we performed was a day-long occasion with 25 contributors break up into groups, all making an attempt to create one thing distinctive to resolve a few of our unconquered advertising and marketing challenges.

So, What Was The End Result Of The Hackathon?

    • 42 new concepts had been generated throughout the hackathon out of which prime 10 concepts had been picked for implementation.
    • Out of 10 hacks, 2 acquired deployed inside one week, 3 extra acquired deployed inside 3 weeks.

Hackathon Management Software: Ideation Phase

    • Flip aspect* Not every thing constructed on the hackathon day sees the sunshine of day. Out of 10 hacks, 2 weren’t adequate to deploy, 1 hack was thematic and we had been late to launch, and a couple of extra hacks required extra bandwidth than we anticipated. So, we needed to depart it incomplete to be picked up in future.

    • We experimented with 15 new instruments for various tasks. The quantity of studying and upskilling the workforce had in a single day was unparalleled.

    • The groups tried a couple of complicated tasks which had been within the backburner for over 6 months.

    • Team collaboration was at its greatest. Team members from totally different sub-teams got here collectively to resolve issues collectively.
    • “A good strategy is to know what not to do.” – Peter Drucker. The indisputable fact that two tasks picked up within the hackathon gave us a way of big manpower requirement to get it performed, led us to dropping them for now.

In nutshell, we noticed 3 tangible outcomes inside 2 months of the hackathon.

  • Increase in leads by 15%
  • 40% enchancment in result in conversion ratio with an improved buyer on-boarding course of
  • User persona survey resulting in improved engagement with customers

How did the contributors really feel in regards to the hackathon:

Thoughts from the hackathon participants

Mistakes I Made

    • Judging standards – The hackathon submissions needs to be judged on the quantum of labor performed throughout the Hackathon day. Essentially, this might imply that groups wouldn’t solely should share their plans/displays however take the subsequent step of creating their plan throughout the Hackathon day. This was a miss. 
    • The concept part ought to have had cross-functional workforce participation. The realization got here later when few gross sales and ops workforce members confirmed curiosity in sharing their concepts for the hackathon.

Can Hackathons Change Into A Game-changer For Advertising And Marketing?

There had been many wins for my workforce. Here are a couple of positives and gray areas.

Big Positives

    • Impact areas- Potential game-changing hacks can emerge from a hackathon.

    • Identifying expertise – Some of  one of the best concepts within the hackathon got here from sudden corners. The hackathon can change into an outlet for “otherwise not-so-visible” workforce members to precise their creativity and competence.

    • Tangible – You can measure the end result of the hackathon.

    • Employee retention – It is doubtlessly the most effective worker retention codecs and presumably the simplest to conduct.   

    • Time to launch – It doesn’t take a lot to manage a hackathon. And in case you are operating it on a software program, it’d solely take 2-3 hours to go reside. 
    • Collaboration and studying – The pace, power and enthusiasm is contagious. Inter-team collaboration and studying improved drastically.

There Are A Couple Of Unanswered Questions

    • Can the workforce all the time provide you with such fascinating and novel concepts?
    • How ceaselessly ought to we run a hackathon for optimum affect?

Hackathon Guidelines And The Method

Hackathons have a couple of guidelines or protocols, and it is very important outline them upfront to make sure easy crusing. These guidelines are sometimes normal and it covers theme, workforce formation, part, period, judging

Listing down the foundations I adopted:

    • A theme defines a top level view for contributors to select their matters for constructing their hacks. Here are the 4 themes we selected for the Hackathon :


        • Optimize and enhance lead-to-conversion ratio or present processes. Show the tangible affect it could supply

        • Improve engagement with customers and prospects

        • Build the model Hackerearth
        • Open theme – Work on concepts which have widespread affect on enterprise

    • Team formation – A minimal of two and a most of 4 members needed to work collectively to construct the hack

    • 2-phase hackathon – An “idea phase” and a “submission phase”. Here is how we proceeded: An concept part is to collect all of the concepts across the above themes. These concepts are submitted by particular person members, and so they get evaluated on the finish of concept part, and just a few good concepts transfer to subsequent spherical, which is the submission part. A submission part is the place the hacks get constructed. The concept part is to make sure solely one of the best concepts transfer to the subsequent spherical. During the concept part( 2 days), contributors submit their concepts in opposition to the themes above. The concept part can finish simply earlier than the hackathon begins. During this time, the members share their concepts. After the concept part is over, one of the best concepts are shortlisted and the hacks are constructed solely on the concepts shortlisted after the concept part. Individuals can resolve which workforce to affix after checking the shortlisted concepts. We managed this course of utilizing our software program which permits members to ask others and create groups.

    • Team constructing – Before the hackathon begins, each workforce member needs to be a part of a shortlisted concept.

    • Duration – The hackathon was a 12-hour day-long marketing campaign, beginning at 8 a.m. and concluding at 8 p.m. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner was on the home!
    • Judging – The submission of the hackathon was performed by 8 p.m. After 8 p.m. judging began, which concluded by 10 p.m., and it was adopted by the announcement of the winners. Each workforce acquired exactly 5 minutes to current their hacks to the judges .

Best Practices To Prepare A Hackathon

    • Announce the hackathon a minimum of per week upfront.

    • Build pleasure round it (ship mails to the workforce, focus on about it formally and informally). 
    • Write an introduction with a transparent transient (screenshot of the software program we used to handle the hackathon).

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  • The workforce ought to really feel relaxed and optimistic about the entire marketing campaign; you may guarantee this by retaining the communication barely informal and artistic.

Hackathon Management Software

    • Offer free meals and snacks throughout the hackathon.  

    • Align your judges a minimum of 1 week upfront.

    • Define your judging guidelines. A very good judging rule shouldn’t solely measure tangibles like affect on enterprise but additionally encourage creativity.

    • Be ready for a passive response from the workforce initially; it’d take a day or two for the workforce to understand why they need to be a part of a hackathon; encourage folks to share their concepts; speak to them; persuade them to fill their concepts; and as soon as the concepts begin to trickle in, the momentum builds on itself.

    • Allow people to decide on their workforce members and focus on their hacks. 
    • Keep your advertising and marketing finances helpful for the hackathon; a number of the hacks might require experiments with paid campaigns, outreach, and validation of hypotheses.

Do You Want Software Program For Hackathons?

I might say; you want one supplied:

    • Your advertising and marketing workforce power is greater than 20. For lower than 20 folks, the marketing campaign might be managed with out software program. The solely subject might be sustaining a repository of all of the concepts and submissions for future monitoring and monitoring.

    • Your workforce members work from a number of places of work and geos. A workforce dimension of greater than 20 and in addition working remotely, or from totally different places, name for a hackathon software program.

    • You wish to conduct recurring hackathons, a minimum of as soon as in six months. 
    • The want is to have cross-functional workforce participation and collaboration.

With an inner workforce dimension of 25, the software program helped me immensely in managing the whole course of easily. It made life simple for the contributors as nicely. They might discover every thing in regards to the hackathon (guidelines, judging standards, timings, workforce collaboration, prizes.) on the software program itself, thereby decreasing handbook interventions. I like to recommend you go along with specialised software program when you’re beginning off or whenever you meet any of the factors above.

* I’ve used the phrases hack, prototype, tasks as synonyms within the article.



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