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Winning with hackathons [Webinar recording]
Participant Resources

Winning with hackathons [Webinar recording]

Catch up on this conversation with Microsoft hackathon organizers and winners.

Hackathons transform innovative ideas into reality. Microsoft has been running hackathons on Devpost for nearly a decade to inspire innovation, grow its developer community, and empower devs to bring their ideas to life. 

Devpost CEO, Brandon Kessler, was joined by the organizers and winners of Microsoft hackathons as they shared their strategies and secrets to successful competitions.

Meet the speakers:

  • Nina Sui, Director Integrated Marketing, Advanced AI, Strategic Missions & Technologies
  • Malena Lopez-Sotelo, Lead AI Product Marketing Manager, Communities GTM
  • Ricky Diep, Product Marketing Manager for Azure Data and AI
  • Francesca Bassa, Product Marketing Manager, Databases and AI
  • Jason Hedman and JP Higgins, co-creators of ChatEDU and winners of Microsoft’s Generative AI and AI Classroom hackathons

Questions answered in the webinar:

  • Why do you run hackathons?
  • Can you tell us about the last hackathon you ran? What were participants asked to do?
  • How important is AI to your company and why?
  • What do you look for in a winning project?
  • What are your tips for hackathon participants or anything you can share that they should avoid doing?
  • Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your winning hackathon project?
  • Why did you enter these hackathons? What’s in it for you?
  • What would be your advice to others who are building a hackathon project?
  • What are your tips for showcasing your project?
  • Do you have any advice for people nervous about joining a hackathon project team?
  • Is a good pitch deck better than a good software product?
  • Can the organizers share advice on running a virtual hackathon for the first time?
  • What would you say to people who are considering joining a hackathon?

Why do you run hackathons?

Malena: “Microsoft's mission is to empower everyone to achieve more. Hackathons help us get our communities to get to that point. How do we learn skills? How do we change the world with our applications? How do we apply all of the different resources and tools with other people to help bring those solutions to life?”

Nina: “While I was working on hackathons, I was in a role to engage with developers and developer communities, and get them excited and exposed to the Microsoft technology. So the two reasons [I ran hackathons] were as a way to get the community to use some of Microsoft’s cloud-based AI and newest tech. 

Second, part of my personal passion is how we can use technology to address some ways to approach the social good. So, we had a series around AI for accessibility, AI for responsible AI, and for social justice.”

Ricky: “Hackathons are a really great way to spotlight and showcase what the community is building with Azure. A lot of the times we get to showcase the work that you guys have done—internally and externally as well. And it makes us super happy to see all the creative and endless possibilities that you can build on Azure.” 

Francesca: “I think that hackathons are just the most amazing way to generate new ideas, to have fun, and to really test out some of the products that we tend to work on on a daily basis, but we don't really think about how they apply in the real world.”

Can you tell us about the inspiration for your winning project?

Jason: “We were students when we were making the project and we originally built it for ourselves. We ended up finding that a lot of our peers liked what we were making and had suggestions for what we could add. And eventually, we ended up with a product that people started using at our school and schools across the globe.”

Why did you enter these hackathons?

JP: “You can only benefit from doing hackathons and it gives you something [to work toward] with a clear directed goal. Even better, especially for students, there are very few opportunities outside of hackathons to have an excuse to sit down and build something for yourself. And it's not just about the competition. This is your portfolio and you keep it forever.”

Watch the full recording below

Feeling inspired?

Find your next great hackathon challenge by checking out all of the open hackathons on Devpost! If you're a hackathon organizer, talk to our team about how to make your next hackathon a success.