Moving forward with Hack Mizzou

I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since Hack Mizzou. If you don’t know, this was the first time that the Association for Computing Machinery has ever hosted an event for more than 50 people1. From the start, it was an experiment. We didn’t know if anyone would show up, let alone create mind-blowing apps. I was amazed at the level of support we recieved from the sponsor companies and the University of Missouri.

Here are some statistics to sum up the event.

  • The sponsors donated an incredible total of $3,850
  • We spent $2,684 which includes everything from reserving the room to advertisements.
  • We raised $1,166 for the Association for Computing Machinery from 7 company sponsors
  • 13 teams finished their apps and presented at the end of the day
  • 103 resumes were sent to the sponsor companies
  • Students travelled from Truman and Rolla to participate.
  • The College of Engineering supported us before and after the event

Although we’re a few months away from planning Hack Mizzou 2014, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on how we can improve the event.

Broader app categories

In the days before Hack Mizzou we realized that the categories were too specific. Unfortunately, we couldn’t change them since teams had already started planning apps for specific categories. Next year, I’d like to see us adopt the ranking system used at Hack the Midwest and Compute Midwest. The categories were “Best In Show”, “Most Entertaining” and “Most Technically Challenging” in addition to sponsor API prizes. Their categories allow participants to focus on creating an amazing app first, which can then fall into any category.

Multi-day event

Like I said, this was an experiment to learn how to organize large events. Now that we have some practice, I think we should take Hack Mizzou to the next level by making it weekend long. More time will allow better apps to be built. Also, this will attract more developers from other schools since too many people declined since one day of hacking wasn’t worth the travel time.

Team mentors

Next year we should try to get some hackers to help teams throughout the day. At Startup Weekend Columbia, it actually seemed like there were more experienced mentors than participants, which really helped teams finish in time. To get a similar atmosphere at Hack Mizzou, we could reach out to local software companies or get more developer evangelists to join us.

As always, please let me know if you have any ideas for Hack Mizzou. No plans have been made about who is planning and leading Hack Mizzou 2014, so there are opportunities to get involved if you’re interested.

  1. I’m not counting the first meeting of the year where everyone showed up for free pizza.