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7 tips hackathons can pick up from ETHDenver

February 19th 2019

Note: Shyft participated in this event in a judging/mentoring capacity and has also supported other blockchain hackathons. We’re not organizers of ETHDenver.

Community Gathering Buildathon

The blockchain ecosystem is at a point where collaboration and education are essential in order to accelerate the learning curve and encourage wider adoption. ETHDenver did a great job at positioning the event based on what the audience needed the most: a community gathering fully focused on building new Ethereum solutions and products to further push that tech envelope, and to learn from each other.

So what can other hackathons learn from ETHDenver? Here are 7 tips to consider when organizing your next event:

1. Accommodations at the venue

Participants in the hackathon, stewards, and mentors spend a huge amount of hours or even full days at the venue. Their minds are constantly stimulated, be it for coming up with innovative ideas for your project or for learning new concepts from workshops.

To make sure they keep their energy levels just as high, there need to be proper accommodations for them at the venue. ETH Denver made sure participants never lacked fuel to keep going. The venue was essentially turned into a food show, where Colorado producers could show off their new local products. Additionally, food trucks were serving international meals in exchange for DaI tokens that were airdropped to each attendee.

Turning the venue into a big open playground definitely helped the community feels going. There were hidden rooms to discover (like the Garden of Ether and the yoga room); a scavenger hunt for stickers that made participants interact with the exhibiting companies; art galleries; kombucha and food stations to socialize around; even a chill room with 24/7 live music. Each hack break could turn into a new encounter, a new discovery, and lots of new spontaneous connections. There was also plenty of space to sit down and relax while enjoying some music and art.

2. Daycare for the win!

We really need to highlight this beautiful and thoughtful initiative. This is the first time ever that we’ve seen a daycare service in a crypto event…and we’ve been to a lot of them!

Crypto events, conferences, and hackathons generally go for 2–3 days, usually over the weekend. This means that if you have a family, someone has to stay with the kids at home during one of these days, and often, it’s women who end up staying at home and opting out of participating. This year, ETHDenver introduced a new standard that we’d love to see many other events in this space emulate. It was a success, and we did see many happy moms leaving their children at play while participating in the event. What a fantastic idea.

3. Central Location

The venue was located at the heart of Denver, right on the main drag, perfect for attendees who stay in downtown locations nearby. There were plenty of restaurants, museums, galleries and parks, just a short walk away so you could easily do sightseeing and exercising during breaks and after hours.

4. Keep it fun

On-site activities kept participants entertained during the weekend. The buffircon stickers collection helped to gamify the hackers’ interactions with presenting sponsors. For each table visited, they collected a special sticker to be added to the event water bottle. Once all stickers were collected, participants could claim a hard wallet.

The two art galleries were also a great way to interact with cryptocurrency while supporting artists. There was an option to pay in crypto or bid on the blockchain for your favorite art, with half the funds going to non-profits like Aprrent.io, who provide workshops and educational programs for kids.

5. Have lots of support on site

Large hackathons often attract many young developers and beginners who have never taken on such a challenge before. To make it fun and enjoyable for them, it’s essential to have lots of mentors and educators. On the #BUIDL floor, ETH Denver had a mentor table, where an experienced professional was available to answer general questions. There were also mentors assigned to different tracks. Many stewards volunteered their time and were present during the entire run of the hackathon to ensure everyone had a great experience.

Weekend-long hackathons can be exhausting for participants, as it’s a huge challenge to come up with original ideas and build prototypes from scratch in this massively constrained time frame. When event organizers recognize this and make an effort to keep everyone hydrated, give them food and make sure they have a good time in between, everybody wins — and builds.

6. Keep it educational

Having mentors on-site + 80 hours of workshops and keynotes scheduled on the agenda enabled builders to gain new skills and learn new things. The talks covered an array of topics, from technical to design and marketing, and there was something for everyone, for beginners and more advanced builders alike.

7. Make a positive impact

From providing a special educational track for kids to supporting local artists and developing a special social impact track with support from UNICEF, ETHDenver ensured that communities around the world could benefit from the collective talent pool.

The Shyft team was on the ground to mentor and judge the Impact Track that promoted projects built for social good, structured around the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goals.

Overall, based on our previous experience with similar events, ETHDenver brought a lot of innovative and creative options to the table to engage the community. It was a great experience, and we look forward to seeing what the hackathons of the future have in store.

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Shyft is building a general purpose proof of sender protocol for instant trust generation and portability, for any definition of sender, designed to integrate across organizations and governments with expertise in identity verification. Shyft is a credentials verification platform.

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