1. Business and Technical Mentoring

Mentors are integral to the hackathon, offering valuable feedback and guidance to participants. They help teams navigate challenges and refine their business value propositions.

2. Technology Partnerships

Leading companies like Google, AWS, and Microsoft provide ongoing advice and technical support specific to their technologies, empowering participants with the latest tools and expertise.

3. Fun Activities and Culinary Delights

A highlight of Hackathons are the creative food items (like Space Cold Flavoured Mochi!) and fun activities (such as Spikeball and an Arcade Sports Tournament). These unique little touches can make a world of difference to a Hacker’s overall experience of the hackathon. They help to recharge and re-energize participants so that they can power through and code throughout the night.

BMO Hackathon participants taking a break by playing some Spikeball outside!

4. The Overnight Experience

A core part of the “true hackathon” experience is staying at the hackathon venue overnight. Participants do not have to stay up the whole night (that part, we leave completely up to them!) There are a bunch of activities, games and food options available for those who do decide to stay overnight. We make sure that there is 24/7 building security present and that someone from our organizing team is available to help out participants with any general or logistics questions they might have.

Staying overnight is always a top highlight for hackathon participants

5. Wellness Activities

Hackathons can be stressful and demanding, which is why organizers should provide participants with a range of wellness activities to help ease and calm their nerves. We’ve partnered up with Zently Workplace in the past to deliver personalized Hackathon Wellbeing Toolkits, meditation exercises and in-person yoga classes.

These activities not only help relieve stress from the event but also help to facilitate deeper collaboration and strengthen bonds within teams, as well as improve overall cognitive function and creativity.

A hybrid yoga class at our internal corporate hackathon with BMO: Destination Digital

6. Submission Deadline

The frantic rush to the submission deadline is always a stressful time for hackathon participants and organizers alike. Teams should be well aware of the submission deadline for their particular time zone and should not be leaving their final submissions and demo videos till the last minute!

At Onova, we use a hackathon management tool called Earth to help participants manage their submissions. Each team submits a 3-minute demo video recording, along with a 5-Page PDF Slide Deck outlining how they approached their unique solution.

7. 1st-Round Judging

Hackathons usually go through at least two rounds of judging. During the first round of judging, teams present their solutions to a panel of judges within their selected stream.

Teams have 3 minutes of uninterrupted time to present their solutions live, either in-person or virtually. This is followed by 2 minutes of Q&A from the judges.

The best presentations we have seen during this round, are presentations that showcase their demo for the majority of the 3 minutes.

These teams keep their introductions/opening remarks short (usually to around 30 seconds) so that they can spend the remainder of their time demonstrating how the tool that they built — actually operates, works and functions.

8. The Grand Finale

Begins with the announcement of the Top 9 Finalist Teams. The top 3 teams within each stream (which is decided on during three separate judges’ briefings after the 1st Round) progress to “The Final Round” of judging — where teams get a chance to pitch their solutions live to a wider audience and to a panel of esteemed Final Round Judges.

Final Round Judges are usually C-Suite level executives with a strong innovation agenda or technology background. Presentations happen out on the main stage, instead of classrooms or workshop rooms, and are usually live-streamed to people throughout the organization (not just the Hackathon participants).

Teams are granted an additional minute to showcase and pitch their solution (4 minutes in total) and have an extra minute to answer questions from the judges (3 minutes of Q&A).

9. Awards and Celebration

The hackathon culminates in an Awards Ceremony where winning teams are announced, recognized, and rewarded for their outstanding achievements. Prizes are also awarded for the best use of technology tools and other categories, celebrating the collective effort and ingenuity of participants.

The final part of the Hackathon is the Awards Ceremony — where the winning teams from each challenge stream are announced and crowned with their prize!

There are also prizes for the best use of each technology tool (which is awarded by each of the technology providers — e.g. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.).

There are also prizes for the “All-Star Mentors”, a “Wisdom of the Crowd” prize (for the most voted on Hackathon solution by participants), plus a host of online and in-person raffle prizes that are linked to participant engagement with the Hackathon.

The event wraps up with a sponsored Cocktail Hour, offering a chance for participants, mentors, judges, volunteers, and technology providers to connect, celebrate, and reflect on their incredible accomplishments.

A team of prize winners from our global hackathon with McDonald's

Interested in seeing how we can support you and your business in your innovation initiatives? Book an introductory call with Victor Li, Founder & CEO of Onova.
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