The Secret to A Successful Hackathon: Microsoft’s Video Strategy

techsmith and microsoft hackathon

Each year, Microsoft holds a global Hackathon event, where 27,000 Microsoft employees (and a few award-winning guest participants) create a new product or solution to a problem and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges via short videos. 

Hackathon participants are asked to create final project demo videos, which don’t need to be fancy or super polished, but need to be persuasive and showcase their ideas clearly to judges. But creating videos when you’ve never done it before can be intimidating — and this was the case for many Hackathon teams.

Block quote reading Creating videos when you've never done it before can be intimidating.

Camtasia is the perfect tool for quickly creating video

Based on experience from past Hackathon events and knowing many have no video experience, Hackathon organizers have recommended Camtasia as one of the tools for participants to consider for the past four years, as they believe Camtasia has the right mix of capabilities, training and support, and ease of use with a small learning curve.

Since Camtasia has been one of the recommended tools that have proven to be helpful for participants to use successfully, Hackathon organizers decided to reach out to TechSmith and see if they would be willing to support the event, especially for those who have never used video creation software.  

“For the Microsoft Hackathon, project teams submit videos of their prototype demos to share their ideas with worldwide participants and judges. The videos don’t need to be flashy, but creating them needs to be straightforward without much lead time — and Camtasia has been a super helpful program! It’s quick to learn, and it offers the ability to combine PowerPoint slides, camera recordings, screen captures, audio, and more. Hackers love it.” – Susie Kandzor, Group Program Manager, The Garage, lead for the Microsoft Hackathon.

TechSmith didn’t just provide free software … we sent a team of TechSmithies for support

TechSmith was more than happy to help support this event by providing a special, limited-time free version of Camtasia for any participant to download and use for two weeks during and after this year’s Hackathon. They also sent a few of the Camtasia team to be on-site at the Hackathon venue in Redmond and offer video creation and Camtasia training support for anyone who wanted some quick help on creating their demo videos. 

Block quote reading We were able to erase their initial fears by walking them through the basics of Camtasia.

“We had several people who had never created videos before approach us with a bit of fear in their eyes. The idea of creating a video when you’ve never done it before can definitely feel scary because so many other video editing programs can be intimidating to learn and use. But Camtasia is designed for people who need to make videos for work, but have no experience. We were able to erase their initial fears by walking them through the basics of Camtasia, answering their questions, and showing them how easy it really is to make videos with Camtasia. To see the fear dissolve so quickly was great.”- Eric Pearson, UX Team Lead, TechSmith

By working together, the goal was to make video creation simple and successful for Hackathon participants to be able to focus on coming up with a compelling story for their project, not on creating the pitch video. 

An invaluable look at how real users tackle making their first videos

“We’re always looking for opportunities to observe new video creators to find ways to make Camtasia even easier to use. The Microsoft Global Hackathon was the perfect place for us to learn from new users who need to create videos in very little time.” – Dave McCollom, Research Manager, TechSmith

Block quote reading, "The Microsoft Global Hackathon was the perfect place for us to learn from new users who need to create videos in very little time."

Thank you Microsoft Hackathon team for partnering with TechSmith and Camtasia to help your participants successfully pitch their ideas visually with video. Because showing their ideas works much more effectively than talking alone. 

We welcome opportunities to support Microsoft Hackathon events in the future as well.

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

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