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How do you organize an online Hackathon?

Before COVID19, I was cynical about virtual Hackathons. The benefit of having in-person events is that it brings people together to socialize and network around a common topic of interest. But how can you translate this experience in an online environment?

The real truth is that online Hackathons offer a different experience.

For the past 2 months I've been involved in over 20 virtual events and I've learnt to realize the benefits of going online:

  • Opportunities to meet people from all parts of the world, even in countries I have never heard of

  • Hearing from inspirational leaders who we normally wouldn't have access to, including Elon Musk!

  • The wealth of knowledge and digital applications are innovative and accessible - like Remo

 The world is super digital and super connected like never before.

Now the question now sits - how do you convert a physical Hackathon to an online one?

The answer is 'simple'.

'SIMPLE' stands for:

Social Platform

Inbound Logistics



Landing Page


A quick preview of the Guide

S - Social Platform: Have a channel where participants, organizers, and mentors can communicate with one another. Set it up so that everyone knows how to navigate and find information that is important to them, such as ideations, forming teams, mentoring, deadlines.

I - Inbound Logistics: Use a platform where it's clear what is going on and who is responsible for what. From our eLearning series 'How to Organize Your First Hackathon', you should be able to create a checklist of what needs to be done and run it in a systematic way so that not everyone is doing the same thing.

M - Marketing: We know you've put a lot of work in organizing a virtual Hackathon so getting people to participate will be your next step. Use mechanisms that can amplify your message to relevant audiences. A quick brainstorm and google search is useful, as well as showcasing it on the Hackathons International site. We'd love to partner with you!

P - Presentations: There are different types of presentations including informative (listen-only), educational (listen + Q&A), and networking (interactive). Make sure the tools you select enable these functions and test them out with all your speakers beforehand! A hot tip here is to pre-record sessions because it will drastically reduce any stuff-ups.

L - Landing Page: Inputting all the information about your Hackathon on your site. Not only should you list your topic and why people should attend, but your range of mentors, LIVE webinars and listing the tools you'll use will be beneficial so that everyone can prepare for the Hackathon

E - Evaluation: Having a smooth submission and judging process is key. Don't be afraid to not give an immediate answer to your participants after the conclusion of the Hackathon. Instead, give judges more time to critique and give constructive feedback. Participants want to FLEARN (fail + learn).

If you're interested in learning more about this SIMPLE guide, we have a full eLearning course, head here:

Included: 7 x 30 minute videos, downloadable presentations, an explanation on how to use up-to-date tools, sharing of best practices, and you can do this anytime, anywhere. 

'The best way to predict the future is for you to create it' - Abraham Lincoln
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