A Beginners Guide to organizing a successful Campus Hackathon

A Beginners Guide to organizing a successful Campus Hackathon

How many times have you seen banners on your campus boasting about the successful conduction of hackathon with exorbitant cash prizes and the names of some of the country's biggest brands as sponsors, quite often, right?

You can't solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level. - Albert Einstein

Before jumping to the crux, let’s quickly and in simple terms understand what a hackathon is.

What is a hackathon ?

A hackathon is an invention marathon held on campus to drive sustained innovation. It is a tool that fast-tracks a practical learning experience for students by providing them with key technical skills to propel their tech and coding careers. It also enables crowdsourcing of solutions to tackle real-life business problems and social issues. In such a time-bound competitive event, participants collaborate to learn by doing in a high-stakes environment.

As a greenhorn in a tech college, one might feel overwhelmed with the number of opportunities gushing around, and in such a scenario it becomes extremely difficult to choose from the sea of options.

Organizing a Campus Hackathon is one such, very important and widely wanted opportunity. The cherry on the cake is that as a part of the organizing team you get to taste hints of many benefits which include-

  • You end up developing a vast network of who’s who.
  • You get a sense of responsibility and grow multiple folds on the professional front.
  • You become a lot more well-groomed and well-known figure in our college.
  • Such a Position of Responsibility opens doors to exclusive internships, research, and employment opportunities for you.

That stated, the process of organizing a hackathon is not very simple and requires a lot of precise planning and ideation. It is a whole twist and turn process that churns out the best in you in every possible way. Though on a superficial level, the process looks very complex and time-consuming (which it is), by step-wise smart planning, you can avoid the chaos and save yourself from extreme stress. We have jotted down a few points that will come in extremely handy while organizing a hackathon. Read on!


How To Organize a Hackathon?


The first and foremost step is to do thorough research. Yes, it might sound boring and generic but without proper research, you won’t be able to draw a plan of execution. Certain important areas of research for a college hackathon are-

  • Hot-selling technologies on which the hackathon will be conducted- Hackathons are not rare on tech campuses, therefore to make your event stand out in the crowd, you need to select a theme that is unique, unconventional, disruptive, and is not widely known by many but holds tremendous potential to boom in the next 1-2 years. Students will eventually become curious to know about the hackathon and this will lead to increased participation.
  • Requirements- Search extensively about various requirements for a hackathon and create a checklist beforehand to be sure you are not lacking on any front.
  • Mode of Engagement- This might be one of the most important topics to research because based on what mode you select Online or Physical Mode for your event, you will have to align the entire event according to it. For conducting any hackathon, you need to engage your audience on a platform, one such all-inclusive and user-friendly platform is Hack2Skill’s Hackathon Platform. Check it out here Conduct surveys on your campus as to what kind of an event will students be more interested to join, this will give you a larger perspective on what the students want.

Spot and Reach out to Sponsors

It goes unsaid that organizing such an event requires a good chunk of money. While some of you might be lucky enough to have college authorities who are willing to spend considerable money for the event, most of the tech colleges take out a pea-sized amount from the college fund for such activities. In such a case tapping generous sponsors is the only way to save your event. Sit with your laptop and search for sponsors who are actively pumping money for such innovation-driven events. Create an impressive pitch to present to the sponsors and make sure to highlight points of interest that will capture the attention of the sponsors.


This is a very crucial and tricky part to handle when it comes to college events. Some of the few tips for effectual management of monetary asset during college events is as follows-

  1. Make a separate finance team dedicated to taking care of the spending.

  2. Keep a track of every spending, no matter how big or small it is, and regularly monitor finances.

  3. Try to accommodate very few people in money matters, the more people get involved in it, the more chaotic it becomes.

  4. Don’t indulge in overspending even if you feel that you have a lot in hand. Many unexpected last-minute expenses will come your way, in that case, you need to be ready with a spare amount of money.

Marketing and Outreach

This is a key area that can’t be ignored, to engage a wider audience, create buzz around the event and present an impressive report to stakeholders after the event, you need to make that your hackathon is getting the due attention not only in your campus but in other campuses as well. Spend a considerable amount of money on the same and a hell of a lot of time and energy on brainstorming out-the-box promotional campaigns to run.

Conduct Pre-Hackathon Engagement activities

Conducting pre-event activities will not only help you engage more people but will also have a positive impact on the participants. You should conduct a mix of fun and learning activities such as a series of workshops on the theme of the event by industry mentors or experts in the field, quizzes around the topic, meme competition, and much more. This will eventually increase the quality of the outcome of your hackathon.

Logistics and Operations

This is perhaps that one task that can’t be single-handedly managed by one person but requires an army of people working in coordination to make the event a success. Make sure to create a good-sized team, in a hierarchical manner including managers, coordinators, and student volunteers to take care of on-ground and backstage operations. Some of the things that fall under the work of the Logistics and operation team are-

  1. Coordination with external entities including mentors, sponsors, and vendors.

  2. Taking care of student-related tasks such as registration platforms, communication over mail or in various communication channels, reverting to their queries, and coordination between students and mentors.

  3. On-ground operations including venue, decorations, food and beverages arrangement, and setup of technical needs when required.

  4. Managing rewards including distribution of cash prizes, goodies, and hampers.

  5. Taking care of after-event activities such as feedback from sponsors, students, mentors, and any other stakeholders involved.

Last, but not least- Engage college faculty members actively!

This is a point that many of you might miss or simply skip while organizing your dream hackathon on your campus. While you might already be engaging with many external mentors or industry experts, that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore or keep aside your teacher’s involvement in the same. Make sure to keep your faculty members, HODs and Admins actively involved in your event. You cannot afford to upset them, remember that they are at a much higher and more respectable level than you. Also, their involvement will turn out to be fruitful for you as they can make many things accessible to you, and in case of any mishap, they are the ones who will be pulling you out of the puddle.

Make sure to follow these steps when organizing your first campus Hackathon and rock it like a pro!