Anwers to all your questions about HackOut

    What is the schedule for HackOut?

    Complete event schedule available here: hackout.startout.org


    HackOut channels on Slack:

    • #general-20

    • #admin-help-20 Method for questions to organizers

    • #mentors-help-20 Method for questions from Mentors.

    • #event-announcement-20 Only event admin can post. This will be for important announcements.

    • #social-20 Any social update from anyone to everyone.

    How can I contact the organizers?

    You can email us at SWHackOut@gmail.com or message us in Slack at #admin-help-20.


    What happens on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

    • Wednesday-Thursday: Participants will pitch their ideas online between Wednesday at 12pm and Thursday at 6pm. Afterward, the organizers will help people form teams.

    • Friday: Participants will log into HopIn at 6pm for our kickoff event. We’ll walk through event logistics and what you need to know about the weekend. Teams also are assigned a Dedicated Advisor that will help you throughout the weekend.

    • Saturday: Teams will work all day, with the occasional breaks to eat or listen to 1-2 short talks. Mentors will be scheduled to help with various problems that teams might find. Organizers and Dedicated Advisors will be around to ask questions and get you connected!

    • Sunday: Teams will work uninterrupted from morning until mid-afternoon. They will have pitch practice with their dedicated advisors from 12-2pm. All final submissions are due at 4pm, including a 5 minute pitch video. Preliminary judges will help the HacOut team by watching all submissions and choosing the top 5 to go into the final show. At 6pm, we’ll start the final show with the main judges. The judges will select the top teams, give out prizes (if applicable), and the event ends (and celebration begins!)

    What tools will attendees be using to attend the event online?

    • HopIn - This is a new conference event tool with a main stage, workshop sessions, networking, expo booths, and audience chat all in the same place. As an attendee you’ll receive an invite to HopIn. RSVP and join here.

    • Slack - Where you’ll be able to chat with your team while working, where we’ll make event announcements, and where you can ask the organizing team questions. Join here.

    • Miro - Miro is the online collaborative whiteboard platform that enables distributed teams to work effectively together, from brainstorming with digital sticky notes to planning and managing agile workflows. Create a new account here.

    Are there other sponsored perks to create my project?

    • Access to Miro

    • Google Cloud Credits

    • Free Google One account

    Please find the attendee perks document in your team’s folder.


    Do I have to participate all weekend?

    Apart from Organizers, selected Coaches, Speakers, and press, everyone who attends the event is expected to participate all three days. This is important not only to preserve the ‘vibe’ of the weekend (“no talk, all action”) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for working teams. However, a “Sunday Presentations Only” registration option is available for those wishing to only view the teams’ final presentations. (Please check the registration page of your city’s website for availability.)


    Who else is attending the event?

    You can see everyone who is attending in HopIn, however we’ve also created an attendee look book to get to know your fellow HackOut attendees better. You can find that in your team’s Google Drive folder.


    Is there a code of conduct?

    Yes! By confirming participation in the event via HopIn, each attendee is agreeing to our code of conduct which can be found here.


    Do I need a team?

    Everyone who attends the event as an attendee is expected to participate on a team. This is important not only to preserve the mission of HackOut (teamwork!) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for all working teams. You do not need to have a team before you attend. There will be opportunities for you to join/form a team on Friday.


    Who can pitch an idea?

    Pitching is open to every attendee! We want to hear all of the ideas our attendees have to offer.


    How do I pitch an idea?

    Pitching will be open Wednesday, September 9th at 12pm through Thursday, September 10th at 6pm. Submit your ideas via the form emailed by organizers.

    What types of ideas can I pitch?

    Any business ideas are eligible (whether for profit, ‘social’ businesses, nonprofit organizations, etc.), however the event is strongly tech-oriented. Approximately 95% of all ideas are mobile or web focused, and given the short time-frame, we strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a tech-related deliverable (i.e., website, POC, etc) by Sunday.


    Can I pitch more than one idea?

    Depending on the number of ideas pitched and the schedule, you may or may not be able to pitch multiple ideas. Prioritize your ideas: pitch your best idea (and the one you have most prepared for) first.


    Can I pitch my existing business?

    The short answer to this is “No.” If you’ve already developed a product or service and you already have customers, this event is not for you. The intent of HackOut is to have participants experience what it is like for a very early-stage startup to take what is little more than an interesting idea and begin to shape a product or service. This experience includes founders making numerous important decisions regarding things like the target market, value proposition, initial feature set, etc. With an existing business, often these decisions have already been made and therefore existing businesses deny participants the opportunity to experience key components of early startup life.



    That said, we recognize that many folks interested in participating in HackOut will have some enthusiasm about an idea they may be currently researching or have started working on. We’re happy to have you participate in HackOut with such business concepts under the following conditions:

    1. You should open to other people joining your business as founders, willing to listen to their input, and, if successful relationships are developed over the weekend, open to enabling teammates to have an equity stake in the startup after HackOut is over should all parties agree to go into business together.

    2. You MUST disclose to organizers, judges, and teammates the amount of work done on the startup prior to participating in HackOut. This includes but is not limited to:

      1. disclosing any technical development that has been done;

      2. disclosing any business entities formed in relation to the startup (corporations, LLCs, partnerships, etc.)

      3. disclosing the existence of any any relevant intellectual property rights reserved to the founder or business entities that have been formed

      4. Disclosing the amount of market validation the startup has including existing products or services that have already launched

    If you are at the beginning of your startup journey and are willing to have other people join you as co-founders, we’re happy to have you participate in HackOut with your idea. However, failure to disclose the amount of work done on the startup prior to HackOut may disqualify a team from any awards from judges.


    How do I protect against people stealing my idea?

    The short answer is that you can’t. If you’re very concerned, you can limit your pitch to the rough outline of the idea without giving away key information. The longer answer is that this is not something worth worrying about. Unless you are confident your idea is a ‘key-in-hand’, easy-to-implement innovation that hasn’t been thought of yet, the advantages gained from getting broad-based feedback and a strong team motivated by collective ownership far outweigh the remote risks of someone stealing and executing on your idea. The truth is that over 90% of ideas pitched at any given HackOut have already been pitched - probably many times - in the past. This doesn’t imply that the idea isn’t a good one, but rather that what truly matters is how well you and your team execute the idea. “One can steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion”


    Do I have to pitch an idea to attend?

    No, but we encourage you to! You can pitch an idea you've been thinking about for years, or something last minute you think of during the event. It's a great experience and invaluable practice for public speaking.


    If I’m not pitching, how do I get on a team?


    Once pitching closes on Thursday at 6pm, the organizers will send out a form before the end of the night where you can choose your top 3 favorite pitches. The organizers will use this to place people in teams. Each team will be assigned a Dedicated Advisor that will create a dedicated Slack channel for the team, add all group members to the channel, including any resources needed, and generally help the team throughout the weekend.


    Am I expected to join another team if my team's idea isn't selected? Meaning, not every pitch will be selected. So if 50% of the pitches are selected, half the people need to join other teams and work on the product they pitched?


    Yes, you'll want to join another team for the weekend. Everyone will have a chance to vote for their favorite ideas, but not all ideas will move forward. We still strongly encourage you to pitch. Through the experience of HackOut, whether working on your idea or someone else's, you'll learn so much about what it takes to build an idea into a company.


    What should I bring?

    • Laptop with video conferencing capabilities

    • Power cord

    • Internet / Wifi (please contact us at swhackout@gmail.com if you need help getting internet access for the event)

    • Optional: A second monitor, keyboard, etc…. set yourself up to be productive!

    • Lots of creative energy!

    How do I prepare?

    • Do some research. Market research and background information will give you a better understanding of the problem you're trying to solve.

    • Practice your pitch. You'll have 60 seconds to persuade other attendees to join your team. Make it clear, concise, and convincing!

    • Get some rest.

    • Bring a friend! Events are better with good company.

    What are the rules?

    We have rules for the weekend that ensure everyone has a great experience. These are detailed in our Terms of Agreement.


    How do teams address the issue of Intellectual Property/ownership?

    As with any startup, the team decides. HackOut doesn’t support or take part in the signing of any legal documents at the events themselves, and while Mentors or Dedicated Advisors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to give specific legal counsel. While it doesn’t hurt to be clear about your individual expectations from the start, we’ve found that teams who don’t spend time addressing this issue until it actually matters (i.e., there is a tangible product to have ownership of) are much more productive and successful than those who do.



    What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?

    While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by Sunday, it’s in your best interest to plan your execution around what you’ll be judged for on Sunday:

    • Customer Validation (did you vet your business?)

    • Execution and Design (what did you build?)

    • Business Model (do you have a plan for the future?)

    • As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any combination of the following (in no particular order):

    • Wireframes or fully developed website;

    • Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons to fully functional)

    • Slide decks (Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.)

    • Videos (i.e. product demonstrations, etc.)

    • Live product demos

    • Skits

    Why is it a competition?

    Competition is not a central theme of HackOut, and this is often reflected in the broad, horizontal allocation of prizes and general flexibility/leniency of the event ‘rules.’ If and when the competitive aspect comes into conflict with the positive atmosphere we try to cultivate, we consistently choose the latter. We do believe, however, that friendly competition is beneficial to all parties and, most importantly, more accurately reflects the realities of startup life. Just as it’s important to gather ‘real-world’ feedback over the weekend, it’s also important to have real-world pressures and obstacles.


    Are there prizes?

    Yes! HackOut will be providing $5,000 in prizes to the top 3 winning teams.


    How will teams be judged? How will winners be chosen?

    Teams will be judged on the following 3 criteria:

    • Business Model: Is the team solving a real problem with their business idea? What is the value proposition: what is your main differentiator that will help this business succeed? How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?

    • Customer Validation: Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?

    • Presentation: Is your presentation logical and clear?Have you communicated the business model and validation you’ve done?Have you communicated the business model and validation you’ve done?


    Are teams expected to continue after the event?

    Whether or not you continue to work on the idea with some or all of your team is completely up to you. Approximately 25% of participants from events like this continue working on their idea with all of their team.


    I love HackOut! How can I get more involved?

    We love you, too! One of the beautiful things about HackOut is that just about anybody can get involved, provided you are in it for the right reasons: to build communities and create startups. We can always use more help organizing events on a local level. Email SWHackOut@gmail.com to learn how to get involved.


    What kind of support can HackOut provide to help my team launch?

    HackOut primarily focuses on the entry point of entrepreneurship, but our support and community spans much farther beyond the weekend. Whether you are looking for more events in your city, guidance for investing and mentorship or a place to accelerate your business, we’re here to help anyway we can. Visit StartOut.org

    On a side note, we love hearing about HackOut success stories! If your experience is share worthy send us an email! It'd make our day (SWHackOut@gmail.com). We have also been able to pitch successful companies to press outlets for coverage, so please keep us updated!


    Didn’t find what you are looking for?

    We’re happy to help! Send us an email at SWHackOut@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you shortly.