On April 3-5, 2020, EU for Innovation project of GiZ, Coolab coworking space and Crazy Town, together with more than 30 Albanian partners organized Hack the Crisis Albania online hackathon.

Participants had one weekend to solve one of the biggest crises of our lifetime affecting everyone in the world – the coronavirus epidemic. How to help Albanian society to overcome the situation?

Ideas could be related to:
– saving lives
– saving communities
– saving businesses

Click here to see solutions created at the hackathon.

What made the event special for us was how quickly the entire Albanian startup ecosystem rallied around the common cause. Us organizers moved from idea to implementation within just 1,5  weeks.

As tools, we used Zoom for kickoff, checkpoint and final webinars; Slack for collaborating with the participants and Google tools for booking mentorship sessions and team matchmaking. Everyone participated online.

Event in figures:

  • 5 primary organizer representatives (EU for Innovation, Coolab, Crazy Town)
  • over 200 participants from 7 countries
  • +30 partner organizations
  • +40 mentors
  • +25 solutions

Mikko Korpela facilitating online

This event was part of the international ”Hack the Crisis” movement initiated by Garage48, Accelerate Estonia and the whole startup community in Estonia, in March 2020.

Learning points for anyone interested in organizing an online hackathon:

  • Commitment of online participants is different compared to face-to-face event. Organizers need to pay attention to communicating the process to ensure that participants are aware of the process and able to hang on. Make recordings of all the checkpoints and other plenary sessions, so that teams can look at them on their own time. Make participation visible (online selfies of teams working, etc) so that people have a sense of being something bigger.
  • There is no shortage of suitable online tools for collaboration and communication. From Slack to Teams, Zoom, Google tools, Jamboard, Trello – you name it. Keep it simple!
  • Reserve enough buffer time. If you have decided that teams submit their solutions as pre-recorded video pitches, instead of doing it live, be prepared for technical issues and delays. If you have a jury that evaluates the winners,  ensure there is enough time to collect all the materials.

Crazy Town has organized and facilitated several hackathons to serve as a catalyst for new beginnings, cooperation and initiatives between different organizations.

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