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How COVID19 helped me pivot my startup over 3 weekend 'hackathons'​

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

I'm not an alien when it comes to change. Getting thrown in an unknown situation, finding people with the same mindset, getting up to speed on the situation, coming up with a range of creative ideas, looking into revenue streams, using what you have to make do, and getting paid customers of board. That is the crazy life of a Hackathon weekend!

This pandemic is no different. Us, hackathon 'hackers'… we're experienced in this field and hacking amongst chaos is our specialty.

For the past three weekends, there have been numerous hackathons happening around the world and I'm proud to be supporting ones not only in Australia, but also in Egypt, UK and Palestine, amongst others.

So how has 'Hackathons Australia' pivoted over the past three weekends?

1.We recognized the opportunity to go international

During the end of March, when we were transitioning into shutdown. I started to get requests from people in Canada, the UK and other countries wanting to advertise their hackathons to Aussies. I thought to myself.. Why are all these communities separately reaching out to us individually? Why couldn't there be a platform to unite all hackathon communities around the world together? Subsequently I approached HackathonsNZ, and discovered HackathonPH, HackathonsUK and together I launched Hackathons International, a group where we share our experiences from different regions in the world and enables people to showcase their hackathon projects to a geographically wider audience. I am also putting a 'Hackathons International Directory' so when organisers need to market their online hackathons to a global audience, they know can tap into the right influential communities.

2. We saw a new emergence of communities drivers

People who formed corporate organisations, peak bodies, educational institutes and interest groups were all working from home. I started to get requests from universities, industry association groups and many corporates asking how they could keep their people engaged. I thought to myself… Why are all these people so worried? Why is culture so important? Is there an opportunity here to shift a culture and its people to think and be more innovative? To test this market, I ran two webinars on 'how to structure an engaging workshop' and I've had 50 people attend. My learnings was that individuals are not only needing to upskill themselves, but HR, managers, CEOs, consultants, teachers have now become the new wave of community leaders. As a result, I've created 'A beginner's guide to organizing your very first hackathon' so that these leaders can better interact and engage their people in a fun and different way! I'm looking for 10 people to test the course out at a discount so get in touch with me!

3. We pinpointed the digital early adopters

Because of our social distancing, conversations with our family and friends transitioned onto Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and Zoom, and groups were using filters, virtual backgrounds, Snapchat cameras and games to enhance the experience! I started getting a lot of questions about which tools were the best to use? What are the features and benefits of each? Where can I get my own virtual background? And the better question.. Why was everyone ask me these questions? And it hit me: I've been working in an international organisation for 4 years and I've always integrated different digital tools to enhance their experiences. So I created the 'Hacking Hackathons' packages, where you will be supported by an army of digital nomads to help you set up your hackathon. We can either run your hackathon completely, or you can use our digital cards to spark ideas! We'll make your hackathon the most productive it can be.

Three weekends, three launches. Oh my goodness! Crazy times, but also opportunistic times.

I hope this article will inspire you to pivot, be agile and adapt to rapid changes. Or maybe even go to a hackathon..?

Catch the wave, ride the wave, and make waves.

Angela Bee Chan

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