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The Unique Value Proposition (UVP) of Hackathons

Making a big impact on the world is not easy an easy task. Success doesn't just come out of thin air, it's a process of many failures, experiences and learnings. I've been speaking to a lot of people managers in companies who want to empower their people to co-create the future.

Trends which I've been noticing is that many people are looking at:

  1. Strategic sessions to analyze the direction they are going

  2. Forums to allow people to talk about certain topics and identify problems to solve

  3. Jams so that people can put their ideas forward and build on each other

  4. Online Challenges so people can form concepts based on ideas generated

The best and logical next step is to use a Hackathon to build the Minimum Awesome Product (MAP), ie the solution that a paying customer uses that will help them with the outcome they need to achieve.

How does it work?

At a hackathon, participants spot the opportunity, build the MAP, then go out and telling the world what you do. It's what I call the Hacker Mindset: SPOT > Build > GO.

An overview of the framework


Story: Stories are powerful ways to capture the attention of an audience and also identify a problem that needs to be solved. Who is being affected? What is the problem? Where is it occurring? Why is it happening?

People: Michael Jordan once said "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships". In a hackathon environment, there are Hustlers, Hipsters and Hackers. That is, your seller, designer and creator. Having a diverse team unified over a common purpose is key.

Opportunity: The combination of a novelty combined with a need is where the magic happens. Here, having a strong vision and mission as well as identifying the market opportunity gives a strong purpose and direction for the group

Tests: Validating assumptions with real customers will help solidify the opportunity. Pretotyping is a set of tools and techniques to test the market quickly, objectively and accurately.

Build the Minimum Awesome Product that you can demo to a user/customer

Note that this part of the process takes time - can be done in a Hackathon environment. Elements of this include:

  1. Scheduling a time with customers to show them your demo (usually the Pitch session at the end of the Hackathon)

  2. Mapping out what milestones need to be achieved within the given timeframe (usually the 2-3 day time allocated at hackathons)

  3. Delegating tasks to each individual based on their skills (Usually only have 3-5 people in each team)

  4. Having check-ins so that everyone is on track and that the team is working cohesively (Have mentors throughout the time to keep you on track)

  5. Delivering a result that can be analyzed and reviewed (Creating something tangible that can be used by the customer)

How we work:

  • Everyone is equal: There is no hierarchy in this environment. All individuals are seen as specialists in their field and all members need to trust one another to deliver the outcomes

  • Work openly and in collaboration: Share information where necessary and educate each other on what needs to be done and why

  • Be agile and willing to pivot: The startup journey is never linear! This is one of the most challenging experiences so understand that decisions are made based on what the vision is. Don't be afraid to challenge the norm and try something new!


Growth: Tell the world what you’ve done! After successes with customers, consider other communities, create creative content, market it out to several channels and characterize these with flavors that would attract your early adopters and early majorities.

Optimize: Continuous innovation, or the creation of change that adds value, is required to meet the demands of customers and to keep a sustainable and profitable business. Looking into revenue streams, organizational culture, hiring strategy, financials, and predictions.

When we started Hackathons Australia six years ago, we loved to solve problems and create products to build on our learnings. For the past 3 years we've focused on bringing everyone on the journey and empowering anyone from any background or skill to participate. For the next phase we will be challenging our people to put ideas and concepts into action to create commercial businesses. This is what we are missing so let's work together to make these changes in our communities and ecosystems.

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