You can’t just take it and do everything perfectly: what remains behind the curtains of the Guinness World Record

Do you want to know the opinion of the organizers of the “Digital Breakthrough” about how the contest went? In this post there will be nothing about the scale, the book of records, top officials, unique solutions and impeccable organization. We will tell about our main fakap – believe us, there were not a few of them. But to make mistakes is normal, especially if you learn from these mistakes.

Start over

Bid campaign

Instead of a thousand applications, a thousand questions

We admit honestly – at the very beginning we encountered a problem that our audience did not quite understand how hackathons work at all – there were many newcomers among the participants who were not familiar with this format. They were interested in the mechanics of such events, project evaluation systems, criteria for selecting expert advice and much more. Thus, in the first weeks of the application campaign, we did not collect registrations, but a bunch of questions on various topics – often they did not even concern the contest itself.

From this we learned a lesson that before starting the collection of applications it is necessary to communicate a lot with potential participants – immerse yourself in the specifics of the event and answer questions on all the upcoming stages.
In general, working more actively with the technology community, which is more interested not in the latest achievements of partner companies, but in the news about the course of the competition – why did you choose the hackathon format? How does it adapt to our competition? How will the online testing go? Wow, online testing has begun – what to do next? So, I do not understand – it was tested, but there are no results. When will they be? And what tasks will be at the regional stages? Who sets? And who will sit in the expert council? How was selected?

And so on.

Main lesson: it’s not enough to just say: “Hello, we are a competition for managers, IT professionals and designers. Get involved soon. And by the way, it will be in the format of hackathons. ” It is necessary to explain everything in detail and in stages.

Online testing

Errors in tests or misunderstanding of the problem by different people?

At the stage of online testing, our social networks were torn from dissatisfied messages about errors in tasks. The problem was that the same task texts by specialists from different fields were perceived differently. It all depended on how they came into the profession — did they study independently or had broad academic knowledge and relevant education. Their perception of semantics and linguistics is very different – this had to be taken into account when drawing up tests.

Main lesson: next time we plan to gather regional focus groups consisting of specialists of various profiles. They will help to formulate tasks for specific regions.

Regional stages

In summer you need to relax

The very first mistake is that we chose the summer for the regional stages – the holiday and student vacation season, so in some cities very few people took part in the hackathon.
For this reason, we reduced the number of nominations, because of which the teams had to abandon the tasks that they wanted to solve initially. Nevertheless, those cities where there were not so many participants fulfilled all the tasks with a bang and showed that good solutions can be made even with a small composition. So it was, for example, in Yakutsk and Veliky Novgorod – there all the teams that originally came to the hackathon went to the finals.

Main lesson: maybe not in the summer?

Features of each region

The conditions in which the regional hackathons took place depended directly on the local partner who supported the competition. Therefore, somewhere it was better, but somewhere worse. Not all of them understood the specifics of such events and why people work 24/7, sleep on ottomans or in tents and eat buns from the dining room. Therefore, in some moments there were flaws.
We express our deep gratitude to the universities – they helped us with the site, experts, the invitation of the media, the collection of the funnel of the participants. Working with them helped us better understand the specifics of the regions – in the future this will make our cooperation more effective.

Main lesson: in the next season, it is necessary to build up work in the regions in more detail and rely more on yourself and your experience, rather than on local partners.

In the regions, information is perceived differently

Channels for attracting participants in cities with a population of over one million people and regions operate in completely different ways. If, for example, in Moscow and St. Petersburg it is enough to launch advertising on social networks and do “seeding” in groups where the target audience is sitting, then word of mouth and calls for participation from local “influencers” (regional administrations) work more effectively in the regions , bloggers, universities, IT communities).

Main lesson: increase the number of channels through which we will work with the audience. Attract more opinion leaders, local bloggers.

Confused by muddy task formulations

What can upset and even anger the hackathon participants the most? Of course, boring and unfinished tasks. At the regional and final stages, the teams complained that the wording of the tasks often sounded not entirely clear and transparent.

Throughout the competition, we have always tried to follow the rule – set the quality task = = get a high-quality solution. But we admit that this did not always happen. In conditions when there were a lot of tasks and for each of them their own data sets were issued … failures happened. But everything was compensated by the help of experts who did not step away from the teams, answered all questions and worked on projects from all sides. This is what affected the quality of the prototypes that came out of the results.

Main lesson: to formulate tasks, we will take experts who are deeply versed in the technologies with which the participants will work to help. So, if we set the task of developing an AR application for the interior, then we will need an expert who has repeatedly applied augmented reality for such decisions.

The final

"Hello! Soon a hackathon, but tickets were not sent to us, ”or problems with logistics

Some participants were late sent information on how their trip to the finals would be organized. This caused a flurry of questions, and we, as the organizers, came under real fire. We will not transfer arrows to anyone – the project team, of course, is responsible for all delays. Most often, they were related to the fact that in most cases we applied for help to the regions, but each of them was able to organize logistics at different times. In the future we will be laying more time for this.

The main lesson: it is necessary to constantly inform the participants about the stage at which the purchase of tickets, hotel reservations and other OSes are. This will help them to be calmer and just wait for their treasured documents to drop in their mail.

And of course, Guinness

Initially, we did not have a task to get into the Guinness Book of Records. But during the regional stages, we gradually realized that we had every chance of it, and closer to the final decided – “We will do it, colleagues!”. Everything went fine until representatives of the Guinness Book of Records announced the requirement that the hackathon participants must not leave the premises for a whole working day (12 hours). They had the opportunity to leave the site for only 40 minutes. This was reflected in the standard mode of catering and access control, which caused indignation of the participants.

Main lesson: Now we will immediately pry about all the pitfalls that may arise from various activities within the framework of the competition, and inform the participants in advance about them.

Share in the comments what mistakes were still noticed in the organization of the contest? We are always ready to work to improve the results!

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