Getting to Grips with Logistics

484dd142c2bb1b6c7d59ce88c837d744?s=47 Syeef Karim
September 04, 2016

Getting to Grips with Logistics

Organising a hackathon isn't an easy task. A lot of the basics of how to organise a great hackathon have been covered, and lots of resources are available. In this presentation however, I try to highlight and provoke a bit more thought around the philosophy of different aspects of a hackathon.

For example, hackers usually need somewhere to work during the hackathon, often times organisers will opt for tables, but what about something like bean bags, hammocks, or standing desks? What about catering towards hackers who actually work better in different locations?

This was a presentation I gave on Sunday 4th September at MLH HackconEU in Eindhoven, Netherlands.


Syeef Karim

September 04, 2016



  2. @syeefk



 - You’re going to have 5

 - What should you prepare for your hackathon 6 months, 3 months, and 1 month out specifically around logistics
 - Venue
 - Volunteers

 - Information Desk
 - Run of Show
  7. 1. VENUE

  8. Start working on it from about 6 months out

  9. Type of hackathon venue

  10. Multiple smaller rooms

  11. None
  12. - Path of least resistance
 - Prepared including wifi, power

    and tables
 - Allows for flexibility
  13. - Potential lack of interaction from hackers and sponsors

  14. Single large space

  15. None
  16. - Mix groups of hackers
 - Create a lively atmosphere

    - General attendee communication is much easier
  17. - Hard to book
 - Not equipped by default

    Large logistical overhead
  18. There’s definitely something more that we can do

  19. Could we have a venue that was a bit more

    than the obvious?
  20. Nice day + A lake + Shining sun

  21. Some really cool things

  22. What if hackers could work outside?

  23. - Work under a tree on the grass
 - Table

    next to the lake
  24. Feel empowered & know that a building with four walls

    isn’t the limit
  25. Wifi

  26. One of the most important things

  27. Take this seriously

  28. Make sure they understand

  29. Make sure they understand, and understand

  30. Make sure they understand and understand, and understand again

  31. Good, reliable, and stable wifi

  32. Hackers will have at least 4 devices

  33. Laptop, smartphone, tablet and a piece of hardware

  34. Pro-tip
 Focus on the quality of the equipment & the

    number of simultaneous connections
  35. If it doesn’t work…

  36. An access point issue and not an incoming connection issue,

    so spread people around your venue
  37. Power

  38. Hackers will need about 3 power outlets

  39. Laptop, smartphone or tablet and a piece of hardware

  40. Pro-tip
 Place multiple power strips per table

  41. Tables

  42. Do we even need them? ¯\_(ϑ)_/¯

  43. Work space contributes to the overall mood and atmosphere for

    your event
  44. Try to place tables such that people have room to

    easily move in and out
  45. Laptops, meals & snacks, and hardware take up significant space

  46. Don’t place too many people per table

  47. Don’t just fall for the standard table setup

  48. Pause, and think about some of the places where you

    work your best
  49. I wouldn’t work my best just being sat at a

    table for 24 hours
  50. Bean bags, rocking chairs, swings, hammocks, or standing desk

  51. Good, affordable and achievable alternatives compared to standard tables

  52. None
  53. Audio & Visual

  54. Have someone from the AV team on site

  55. Insist on getting an understanding of how to operate the

    AV equipment
  56. Training is incredibly important

  57. Use the equipment to show off the personality and character

    of your hackathon
  58. Use the equipment to show off the personality and character

    of your hackathon
  59. Full advantage of their AV equipment

  60. Pro-tip
 - Invest in adapters
 - Check out HackCam on

    the iOS App Store
  61. Cost of the venue

  62. Majority of our hackathons don’t actually pay for their venue

  63. Pro-tip
 - Get everything in writing
 - Trust isn’t enough

  64. But if things go wrong, it isn’t the end of

    the world…
  65. None
  66. Put a plan together to call every single possible potential

    venue in the city
  67. And it did all work out for them in the

  68. Make sure you’ve got your shit together

  69. Key points to consider for venues:
 - The type of

 - Wifi
 - Power
 - Table setup
 - Trust isn’t enough

  71. Starting thinking about your plan for volunteers about 2 -

    3 months out
  72. Play a critical part to the success of your event

  73. Three great ways to start looking for volunteers include

  74. Three great ways to start looking for volunteers include

  75. - This very community - Your university or local tech

    scene - Your network
  76. Social capital is key

  77. Motivate your volunteers and have them bought in to the

    philosophy of your event
  78. Set aside budget to host volunteer meet ups and meals

    before the hacakthon
  79. Have their backs

  80. Intrinsically motivated

  81. 3. FOOD

  82. Main meals

  83. Venue catering

  84. Local catering

  85. Pro-tip
 - order enough food for hackers, volunteers, sponsors, directors

    and venue staff
  86. Pro-tip
 - collect the dietary requirements of everyone attending the

    event during registration and use it
  87. None
  88. Quality of the food

  89. Quality of the food
 - Celebrate the wealth and variety

    of cuisine
  90. None
  91. and serve chicken wings…

  92. What should you serve the food on?

  93. None
  94. Who is actually serving the meals at your event is

    also an important detail that is often overlooked
  95. Snacks

  96. Just because you might like something doesn’t mean that everyone

    else does as well
  97. Selection of soft drinks, fresh fruit juices, tea & coffee,

    and a constant supply of bottle water
  98. Prioritise having water over anything else

  99. Story-time
 A concierge service

  100. Story-time
 A concierge service

  101. Story-time
 A concierge service

  102. Anticipating attrition

  103. # of people who sign up for your event, but

    on the day for whatever reason can’t make it
  104. Pro-tip
 - Assume 30% - 40% attrition
 - Always have

    an emergency budget
  105. Key points to consider for food:
 - Always consider the

    multiple catering options
 - be aware of attrition but have a back up plan prepared

  107. None
  108. Central place to get the most up-to-date information

  109. Information Desk = Mission Control

  110. Pro-tip
 - Access to all of the information
 - Need

    to be able to delegate
 - At least one director should always be at the desk
 - Radios
  111. 5. RUN OF SHOW

  112. Highly detailed itinerary for your event

  113. Who needs to do what, where they need to be

    and when they have to do it
  114. Include loading in and setup, day of events, announcements, and

    tasks and finally teardown and load out
  115. A document which clearly disseminates all the information you need

    to everyone
  116. There is no detail which is too small to be

    included in the run of show
  117. Including details like sleep schedules and a social media timeline

  118. WHAT WE COVERed
 - Venue
 - Volunteers
 - Food

    Information Desk
 - Run of Show

  120. @syeefk Thanks for listening & happy hacking