A great mentor of mine named Costa Nzambara once told me a profound parable from his native Rwanda:
Everyone has something to give.
No matter where you come from, what you do, or how hard life may have been, there is something you can give to your community to improve the wellbeing of both yourself and others. We all have something to give. Some can give money, some can give love, and some can give code.
And by running a nonprofit based in Silicon Valley, I knew that we were swimming in amazing coding talent that was changing the way we live, work, and play. Still, this boon of talent also presents a double edged sword when ramping up a nonprofit or small company. With so much competition out here for the best coders in the world, it’s expensive to hire IT, full-time or part-time, to help your mission grow. So what’s a do-gooder to do?
The predominant answer to this riddle in Silicon Valley is: Stage a Hackathon. Its a great way for the tech community to come to a festive event where they can spend a day, weekend, or even week coding for good. Get coders in a room, tell an inspiring story, and then you will get that awesome app or website done in no time, right?
I have hosted and joined in a number of hackathons at GO, Full Circle Fund, Silicon Valley Tech Connect, and others and learned that without proper preparation, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. Yet done well, we discovered ways to make Hackathons vastly useful with both short and long term benefits.
9 Steps to make your hackathon a success:
The tips above should help make a hackathon a viable resource for your mission to reach new coding and design heights. If you would like more detailed consultation about the nuances of this approach, then please reach me here.
I would also like to thank this amazing group of inspired coders that are shaping a better and more just world. Their input in creating these tips and tricks were absolutely invaluable and I cannot thank them enough for their support.
Kyle Miller (Airbnb)
Michael Klein (Accenture)
Brian Shire (Facebook)
Duane O’Brien (Adobe)
Gardner Bickford (Adobe)
David Demember (Toi)
Annie Davis (World Centric)
Zach Berke (Exygy)
Barclay Keir (Freelance designer extraordinaire)