MangoHacks 2018: A Retrospectively Introspective Personal Account

A Big Year for MangoHacks. A Bigger Year for its team.

Team Building From Scratch

After MangoHacks 2017, the old organizing team was ready to move on and either graduate or retire. I feel it is oft mentioned the amount of stress that putting on one of these events do to you. Unless you have a good grasp of the content in school, organizing one of these events of this magnitude is one of consistent worry and work while you try to keep a good balance between your job, your classes and this wonderful yet simultaneously ugly process. It was time for MangoHacks Founder Juan Alvarado to retire and pass on the reins to me. (No Pressure) In terms of the returning team, it was just me and it was time to pick a new Co-Director- luckily for the future of the event, there was an enterprising young student by the name of Cesia who approached Juan and started listing the ways on how MangoHacks 2017 was inadequate, in short that was what we needed. She got the role of Co and Cesia and I began our work.

On-boarding Your Team

Now- one disclosure. FIU is a commuter school with unique challenges and its students sometimes share those challenges. First off, some of our team members work full time, or near full time hours. Second, some of our students are transfers that are sometime making up classes or are behind the normal school schedule. Lastly, MangoHacks along with all of our team members responsibilities (to their parents or to their other obligations) we face a unique issue where the team members in some cases can only put in around 5 hours of work each week. So the first challenge was to get the team comfortable with picking up each other’s weight when it was time. Hence why agreeableness and diversity helped work in our favor. In Miami, it is very easy to recruit for one type of person considering how segregated our demographics can be.

We had a Gif Heavy culture

Designing Our Event

One of the most important elements of an event is experience.

Our registration post if you couldn’t tell.
Sponsor promotion. We also just really like 1517.
What could have been.

Finalizing the Blueprints

We spent around 4 months in preliminary meetings at this point, from getting to know each other better to working on our designs. There were other things in the back-burner that was brought up right along these discussions. We drafted around 5 different areas that needed attention from MangoHacks 2017. Here was some of our notes.

Honestly, my favorite page of our prospectus.

Executing and Failure to Do So

Once all the designs were wrapped up, the budget set, the shirts ordered, the opening slides made, the tears cried, stickers made, fights resolved and we still weren’t done.

  1. One of our food providers ended up doing a bait and switch with the quote bringing up the price and making us go last minute to another food provider.
  2. We were under registered after two weeks of having registrations up. Then we run our print campaign and then we over confirmed the people allowed, that ended up with us going over our expected amount of 350 students. This will give us problems described later.
  3. Our sponsor contact switched midway, complicating logistics.

Things on our mind that we can do better

First and foremost, we could have done better with capping people allowed at the venue. We tried our best to being everyone in — and in turn might have made the event feel crowded and unfortunately people feel excluded in the overflow hacking space.

Things that we loved

The people that spent an hour maybe 36 hours with us. It means a lot that you gave up a weekend to work on something cool. We had 492 people from across the country (countries I should say) with 125 women and non-binary folks represented. We hoped you loved the effort and detail we put into this event. Year after year, aspects about this event get better and things get improved- I am happy to see such a level of camaraderie that has never been done before for this event.

Radically moderate. Constructively discontent.