How To: Participate In A Hack-a-Thon

Recently, I hopped over to Philadelphia to participate in the city’s inaugural Give Back Hack, a 3 day hack event from Columbus, Ohio that focuses on creating and launching ideas for social impact. I joined a local team to create a new business called Cali Box, an on demand box experience that empowers young girls to create and foster healthy relationships with their bodies through their first bra. It was a rewarding experience and I loved being able to mentor the idea owner to make her first pitch.


You can find the winners and the list of projects launched at Give Back Hack Philadelphia HERE.

If you’re ever interested in participating in any kind of hack event, there are 3 things to keep in mind:

  1. If you decide to continue past the introductory period and join a team, keep your commitment. Getting to the finish line is a team sport and it’s not cool to drop out in the middle of day 2 because you got a party invite. If you do need to leave, be clear about your time constraints and set expectations about what you can accomplish as part of the end goal.

  2. Pick an idea (Or pitch one!) that you have passion for. You’re much more likely to push through the obstacles and find creative and innovative solutions to the roadblocks that your team will encounter.

  3. You don’t have to be a developer to participate or contribute in a hack event (unless that event is specifically asking for that skill only). Other useful skills include: Entrepreneurship - the Swiss army knife of business skills

  • Marketing - especially product marketing

  • Experience with website platforms like squarespace

  • Design - you’ll probably have to build some kind of pitch deck

  • Business and startup strategy - figuring out your revenue model

  • Finance and accounting - getting costs and product / service price mapped

  • User experience / research - how your product or service interacts with your customer


Give Back Hack started in Columbus, Ohio and has spread from Columbus and Philadelphia, to Cleveland, and Los Angeles.

Visit for more information on the event!

Dan Graham