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Here at MIT Launch, we are always looking for ways to support the young entrepreneur community. Whether it’s speaking at an event or sending some Launch swag and prizes, we love being involved with the exciting things happening with high school students. If you or your school are hosting an upcoming hackathon, let us know how we can get involved! Use this form to share more information.

Thinking about running an event and don’t know where to start? A few former Launchies, who have setup hackathons at their schools, share their insights on the vision, support, and marketing of these events.

Ayden Howle, hackMHS II, May 21-22, the vision and organization:

“We created hackMHS in order to bring people together, to create a community of coders and engineers from different school systems. We hope to create an environment of innovation, where teams will get together to create and build anything they set their minds to. In order to have our hackathon run smoothly, we split up the team of organizers into several committees, such as Workshops, Sponsors, Budget, Logistics, Mentors, Marketing, etc. Organizing the hackathon has been challenging, but incredibly rewarding.”

Mihir Trivedi – the importance of mentors and how to recruit them:

“Having access to mentors who are both qualified and personable is key to the success of running a hackathon. Good mentors are integral to cultivating the inclusive atmosphere of a hackathon — they allow new hackers to feel included and not be confused, plus are a significant resource for even advanced hackers.  Oftentimes, sponsoring companies will send engineers as mentors experienced in their company’s API(s). For example, IBM might send a Bluemix engineer to help students incorporate machine learning into a project. Another way to recruit mentors is contacting a local university in your area, and having CS/Engineering students sign up (in return for free admission to the event/free food).  Overall, mentors are crucial to the experience of a hackathon because they provide advice (oftentimes, not technical — I’ve learned a lot about life from just talking to mentors for some time).”

Aniruddh Iyengar, MetroHacks, May 21-22, marketing your event:

“A hackathon wouldn’t be possible without hackers, so it’s important to be able to effectively market and sell your event. I was in charge of the marketing strategy for MetroHacks, and I knew that hitting our targets of 200 participants and mentors would be difficult to pull off. For an unknown, one-off hackathon like MetroHacks, it wouldn’t be enough to rely on social media to spread our message; it would require email marketing, personal connections, and a combination of hustle and creativity. We initially had trouble getting applicants through outlets like Facebook and Twitter, so we soon resorted to sending cold emails to thousands of newspaper editors and publishers, online journals, and content aggregators. We contacted guidance counselors and computer science teachers in Massachusetts, and asked our friends to post flyers around their schools. We even gave incentives for applicants to invite others, promising free T-shirts and bags to those who recommended MetroHacks to their friends. In the end, we were able to amass 400 applications in a few weeks, with 150 confirmed attendees and counting. With MetroHacks gaining real traction, we finally have something to show for countless hours of work.”

Hackathons and other events are a great way to bring together the community and encourage creativity and innovation. Start planning yours today! Looking for inspiration? Check out some of the events Launch has sponsored recently below.

Previous:

MBKHack – Feb 26-28 – http://www.mbkhack.com/

MIT Blueprint – Feb 27-28 – http://blueprint.hackmit.org/

DefHacks.nyc – March 19-20 – http://defhacks.xyz/

EagleHacks – April 2 – http://www.eaglehacks.com/

HackBCA – April 2-3 – http://hackbca.com/

MenloHacks – April 16-17 – http://menlohacks.com/

Upcoming:

MetroHacks – May 21-22 – http://metrohacks.co/  

HackMHS- May 21-22 – http://hackmhs.com/

MasseyHacks – May 21-22 – https://masseyhacks.ca/

StuyHacks – May 28-29 – http://stuyhacks.com/

BaseHacks – June 11-12 – http://www.basehacks.org/