Digital Events

Some differences to consider with Digital Events
We have consolidated some Digital Event Specifics here.
First, let us go over some differences between a Digital and In-Person Event.
Checkin using an online form
In-person check-in process
Opening Ceremony
Pre-recorded, watched on a live stream, viewable anytime
Live presentation, seen once
Live-streamed, viewable anytime
Live presentation, seen once
Meals, Snacks, and Drinks
Hackers provide
Organizers provide
Online multiplayer games, trivia tournaments, and more
Cup stacking, trivia, video game tournaments
Shipped to hackers after the event
Hackers collect swag bag at check-in
Hacker Interactions
Via Discord or Slack across all attendees
Via Discord or Slack, or In-person with hackers nearby
Sponsor interactions
Hackers join office hours dedicated for the sponsor
Hackers approach sponsors at their tables
Pre-recorded demos submitted on Devpost, available to view after submissions, or live demos in channels like Discord
Live demos
Closing Ceremony
Streamed pre-recorded videos by organizers, viewable during and after the event
Presented live by organizers, with sponsors on stage

Digital Sponsorship

Getting sponsorships for Digital Hackathons is much different from an In Person one. This is because sponsors have different goals from different kind of events. Also, a digital hackathon can be organized for a fraction of the cost of an In Person hackathon.
Digital events have significantly lower costs compared to in-person events. This is because the costs of food, lodging & venue which take up a significant chunk are removed. Though the addition of shipping might add to the costs, this too can be greatly reduced with judiciously planning the distribution.
With the right communication and target, you can expect a lot of positive response from the sponsors' side even for a digital hackathon. However, be diligent to communicate with your sponsors at every step of the process. Explain to them the reasons for making your event digital, outline how you will support them throughout the event, and let them know about the success at other digital events.
  • As we have noticed with time, sponsors can get much of the same value from a Digital Event as they can an In Person one.
  • Prize categories and Workshops can both be run much the same, though sponsors should practice running their workshop through streaming or pre-recorded video.
  • Give sponsors their own channel on the chat platform (Slack/Discord) to talk to hackers, and have them introduce themselves so everyone knows who they are how they can be a resource for them. As long as they’re online answering questions from hackers about their company/prize category/workshop/anything else they’re doing that weekend, they’ll have a lot of great interactions with hackers.
    • For digital events set up Google Hangouts or Zoom breakout rooms for your hackers to meet companies one on one, similarly to how they would at a sponsor fair.
  • We also strongly recommend doing Office Hours with sponsors.

Communicating with Hackers

  • Streaming Platform- for Opening & Closing Ceremonies. Recommended Platform: Streamyard - Streamyard can be used to simultaneously stream to YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook.
    • You can edit videos together on YouTube or iMovie (Mac) or just play them sequentially on the stream. If you pre-record your video, we’ve found music and video can make it much more engaging. Make sure to use royalty-free music!
  • Video Calling Platform- for hosting your workshops, mini-events, live demo judging, webinars etc. Recommended Platform: Zoom
    • If possible, encourage folks to turn on their webcams so that everyone can see each other. There may be some attendees who don’t have the bandwidth to connect with video. That’s okay! You may even have some attendees who join without access to a computer. If so, consider asking someone to cast their desktop so folks can follow along or cast your own.
    • Make sure you choose a platform that will allow for the correct number of attendees.
      Some popular options are:
  • Virtual Conference Platform- can be used for running the whole event in a consolidated space. These platforms are a bit costly but the hacker experience they provide is much better than using different streaming and calling platforms. Recommended Platforms: Hopin, Gather.Town

Budgeting for Digital Events

  • Distributing swag is a digital world might look a bit difficult as the costs of shipping are associated with them. We would recommend you to look at the different options available which can be easily fulfilled from your side within a budget. We recommend using the local postal services (like USPS or Indian Post) as they often are the most reliable & economical shipping providers.
    • Utilizing too much money into the shipping and fulfilment of swag and prizes in a digital event is not valuable as it might be for an in-person event. Use your best judgement when it comes to how much to spend on swag for a digital event
    • If you don’t have the budget to ship everyone something for a digital event, you can send a package to each university club that participated and have them handle the distribution. That should keep shipping (and labor) low, while letting you allocate your budget toward something high-impact.
    • Keep in mind however you’re shipping, this doesn’t need to happen directly after your online event. We encourage you to take a few days off to rest and recover before you start the shipping process. Alternatively, you can send out swag to arrive before the event starts so hackers can post on social media and generate hype.
  • For Digital Events we recommend checking for prizes that can be easily fulfilled with free delivery through Amazon or any other online service.

Digital Attendance and Engagement

Since hackers do not need to make travel arrangements to attend a digital hackathon, you will likely see sign-ups rising closer to the event start that you may see at in-person events. The exciting part of this is you now have the ability to promote your event to hackers anywhere in the world!
Checkout our example check-in form as a reference to what information you might need to collect day-of. If you are sending swag, shipping address is important to gather during registration and/or check-in.

Digital Check-ins

It is still important for Digital Events to have a check-in process. Examples include Discord bots, Google forms, and Typeform. If you have a separate registration platform, building in a small check in button that reveals all the day of information and links is a great way to get this done.

Digital Engagement

In a physical event, you can quickly communicate with people in the same room as you. However, at a digital event, you’ll need to set up an environment so that people feel comfortable starting conversations as they would in-person.
Having a chat channel like Slack/Discord is essential. Creating separate channels for groups, teams, and interests would be the first step. We also suggest your organizing team to be active on these platforms to help facilitate conversations, moderate threads and get people chatting. This also makes your hackathon more accessible for people who have a hard time in large groups.

Digital Judging

You can follow our Judging process later in the guide, but some important differences for digital events have to do with how hackers how off their projects, and how Devpost classifies Digital Events.
Live Judging: If you are doing a digital event, we recommend making a discord voice channel for each team (Team 1, Team 2...., Team 50). Hackers can wait in the call then screenshare/join video as judges join the channel.
Devpost: Since hosting Digital Hackathons is a paid service on Devpost, you need to contact their support for conversion of your in person hackathon into a digital one from their side. Devpost people are kind enough to provide their platform for free for any community/ student hackathons that might be happening around!

Digital Day-Of

Last but not least, here is a quick reference check-list for items you want ot ensure happen day-of:
  • Check-in is ready and up (You have all the information you might need later on)
  • Streaming platform is ready to go
  • Opening ceremony ready to go
  • Sponsors are on your chat platform with their assigned roles
  • The schedule is accurate and visible to attendees
  • Hackers have access to relevant channels on the chat platform
  • Mentors and judges are confirmed
  • Internal tasks are assigned to individual members of the organizing team