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7 essential tips to make your Hackathon a success

Transpire’s Hackathon has been and gone in a flash. But before all the ideas and creativity had their moment to shine, a lot of time, coordination and thinking went into ensuring the day was a success.Today we’re sharing our 7 essential tips to ensure your Hackathon is also a success.
  1. For the staff, by the staff

Transpire’s Hackathon was put together by an organising committee of staff, across multiple disciplines. Management were consulted and obviously had a role to play in allocating time and budget to the event, but the team were the drivers. One of the key reasons we held the Hackathon was a desire for our team to do more work with people they otherwise wouldn’t regularly work with, to explore new skills & work in new teams.

  1. The power of face-to-face

The Hackathon was first suggested by the team as an internal event back at the beginning of 2021. While we would always support remote and hybrid participation, we felt that face-to-face would be where this event would shine. But with the majority of our team based in Melbourne, the many lockdowns and prolonged periods of not being able to go to the office meant this just wasn’t possible. So we made the difficult decision to delay the event and wait until we could have the option of a face to face event.

The majority of participants did so within the physical office, but there were many who also participated virtually. This meant all aspects of the event needed to be inclusive for both ways of participation. Catering was to be organised for those working from home the week prior to the event kick off to ensure they had the same experience as those in the office.

  1. Purpose

Some team members, especially those from outside our design & tech teams, were a bit unsure as to the purpose of the event. So we made clear in all our comms that the purpose of the Hackathon was threefold: connection with colleagues, learning new skills, and having fun.

Our team loves getting stuck into tech projects that make a difference, and this event provided a great opportunity for everyone to work with real purpose. A vote was held to decide the theme of the event, and sustainability narrowly edged out mental health. But as some of the team cunningly worked out, good health and wellbeing is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – meaning both interpretations of sustainability got a run in the end.

  1. In and out of hours

The organising committee spent quite a bit of time ironing out the fine details of the event. Taking into account business requirements and of course the importance of down time and weekend, the decision was made to run the Hackathon from Friday lunchtime to Monday lunchtime. This meant all participants were granted two half days off their project work, plus they could put in as much time over the weekend as they wanted.

As a services business, time off the tools is never easy, but Transpire’s leadership understands how important connection and culture is to our team and fully supported this format.

  1. Internal influencer marketing

In the weeks leading up to the event, a whole heap of internal marketing took place to get people signed up and excited about the event. A single voice was never going to be enough, so we got a diverse mix of team members sharing the key messages across various platforms. These internal influencers took the time to record hype videos, host lunchtime brownbags and training sessions on various elements of hackathons, share FAQs and begin sharing ideas. A Miro board was set up as a old-school notice board, with key information about the event, sign up sheets, and a place to pitch early stage ideas.

  1. Judges lend credibility

It would have been easy to have our CEO or leadership team decide the winner, but we felt strongly that external judges would lend credibility and gravitas to the event. The organising committee went out to their networks and a diverse judging panel was assembled of entrepreneurs and leaders across the tech and sustainability fields. Our judges were:

Eytan Lenko, a technology entrepreneur and thought-leader of the clean-energy transition. He is a founder of Outware, one of Australia’s most awarded and fastest growing technology companies.

Ayala Domani, an innovative leader in the tech sector with international experience in startups, corporate venturing, product management, strategic partnerships and channel development.

Josh Howard, an entrepreneur who is passionate about finding solutions to environmental problems. Josh is Founder and CEO of Single Use Ain’t Sexy.

Kim Vittorio, Transpire’s Head of People & Experience, currently on parental leave. It was great for Kim to reconnect with the team and spend some time in the office, with baby Ruby in tow!

The judges were provided with a judging criteria, to evaluate the ideas based on the following:

  • Innovation: Does the solution tackle the problem in a new way?
  • Feasibility: Is the proposed solution feasible?
  • Functionality: How well does the product or solution work in terms of its claimed functionality?
  • Design: Does the design elevate the solution?
  • Relevance: How well does the solution line up with the challenge?
  • Presentation: Was the presentation organised and engaging?
  1. Gifts make it sweeter

While the main purpose of the event was to connect with colleagues, a bit of a carrot never hurts. For everyone that participated we arranged a sustainable gift pack containing a Single Use Ain’t Sexy reusable matte white glass bottle & dissolvable hand soap tablets, the last soap bottle you’ll ever need! Each pack was stored in its own reusable strong shopper bag, the stretchy string shrinks & grows to suit your needs & helps our team replace single-use plastic bags.

And for our judges, rather than loading their arms up branded merchandise, we thanked them for their invaluable contribution with a donation to Food Bank to support people in the wake of the NSW floods.

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