2018 Website Challenge

The True North Hackfest Website Challenge scheduled for March 23 & 24  has been postponed due to low team registration. In an effort to improve the event and participation we urge you to take a moment to complete the survey at the link below.  It will give the planning committee valuable information as we move forward and design the next tech event.

Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HDHWD52

This year we are seeking teams of 2-6 individuals interested in displaying their talents and creativity in a competition to create websites for Bemidji area non-profits – pro bono!

True North Hackfest is a collaboration of local partners led by Greater Bemidji’s LaunchPad with a mission to attract, retain, empower, and showcase technology-minded individuals in the Bemidji region.

This year’s event will showcase the web development and design talents of a variety of teams, while benefiting select area non-profits by creating useful and well-designed websites to reach their specific client base. Non-profits will have the opportunity through the application process to articulate how a new website will help their organization further their mission through use of interactive technology.

Each design team will be paired with a non-profit through a random drawing. They will have time to work with their non-profit representatives at the beginning of the event, and will continue working on the websites (with guidance as needed from the non-profit reps) until the judging commences. A judging panel will award cash prizes totaling $500 to the winning teams!

Deadline for the team registration is March 14th, 2018. Early bird registration through March 1st.  

Non-profits interested in participating in the Website Challenge should apply no later than February 23, 2018. Notification of selection to the Challenge will be around March 5th. Applications may be found on this website. For paper applications, you may go to the Northwest Minnesota Foundation or LaunchPad.

LOCATION: At the LaunchPad in the historic Mayflower building
102 1st Street West, Bemidji, MN 56601
Map  |  www.launchpadbemidji.com


Award Categories

Most Beneficial – greatest value to its non-profit     $150 cash
Most Functional – best features and usability             $150 cash
Best in Show – overall most impressive design           $200 cash

Who should participate in the HackFest?

Individuals with skills, experience, and interest in any of the following areas:

  • Web development
  • App development
  • Graphic design
  • Storytelling

  • Creativity and problem solving
  • Leadership and project management
  • Marketing
  • Public speaking

Participants should bring their own laptops with pertinent software for idea development.


Date: TBD

4:00-5:00: Registration of teams, choose & setup worksite, announce challenge details, rules, schedule, etc.

5:00- 5:30: Announcement of team/non-profit assignments/meet each other.

5:30-6:00: Dinner

6:00-10:00: Non-profits work with teams

10:00-?:   Teams choose to work onsite or off, must be back at LaunchPad 8 am Saturday

Date: TBD

8:00 AM: Breakfast

8:30-3:30:  Continue working on website (lunch on own)

3:30-4:00:  Prep for presentation to Judges – tech checks

4:00-6:00:  Teams present their work to the Judges

6:00-6:30:  Awards announced  


Applications can also be picked up at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation and at LaunchPad.

Friday night dinner, Saturday breakfast, and snacks/beverages
are included with registration.

Hotel Information

Bemidji offers a wide variety of lodging accommodations.

See the full listing on the Visit Bemidji website:
Visit Bemidji Website


Who can participate?

We welcome anyone interested in web design or its elements to participate. Youth are encouraged to join a team, with the only rule being a team must consist of a majority of adults (18 and over). This Challenge is open to amateurs and professionals. See the list of skill sets that make strong web development teams. First time participating in a Hackfest? No problem, we want you!

What if I’m new to HackFests?

True North HackFest has great opportunities for people that are new to programming. In fact, we encourage new programmers to come because hackfests provide an opportunity to gain experience. As a new programmer at True North HackFest, you will learn a lot in a short amount of time, be challenged, and build something awesome.

What if I’m not a web developer?

Programming not your thing? That’s fine! We encourage graphic designers, marketers, project managers, creative thinkers and problem solvers to participate in True North HackFest Website Challenge. The best teams have members with a variety of skill sets. Don’t want to be a participant? You can help by sponsoring the event. You can also spread the word about this event to students, friends, and media.

How will website hosting & domains be handled?

Non-Profits will be offered a free domain for the first year and free hosting for 1 year. The hosting environment will be PHP/Apache with control panel access. Accounts will be set up before the event and instructions will be provided.

What web platforms can I use to build the site?

You can use any platform you want, but it needs to be uploaded or accessible via the internet prior to judging. We encourage the use of a content management system that is user-friendly and editable by the non-profit.

What are the expectations for final product?

Website teams will be charged with creating a new website, not altering or updating an existing website. Content/photos from an existing site may be copied to the new site. The client will guarantee all text, images and other artwork provided are either owned by the client or has permission to use. Teams may choose whatever platform they wish to use. Keep in mind that the 1 year of free hosting will be a PHP/Apache environment with Cpanel. At the end of the competition there is no guarantee the website will be completed and fully functional. At the close of the competition, the participating teams will be required to assist their agency with any remaining site set up details, not to exceed 10 hours. Upon site completion, copyright for the collective work created will be assigned to the client, with the developer(s) retaining the right to display and link to the project.

Is there a place to sleep?

Go to the Visit Bemidji website for hotel listings: Visit Bemidji Website

What should I bring?

Laptop, cell phone, business cards, and maybe an extension cord.

Must we work on-site the whole time?

We ask that all participants work on their projects at LaunchPad Friday evening until 10:00, or until the non-profit reps depart, whichever comes first. Overnight, teams may choose to work where they choose, whether that is at LaunchPad, their hotel room, place of business, or elsewhere. All teams should return to LaunchPad Saturday morning by 8:00 am and work from LaunchPad for the reminder of the competition. If photos or contents is needed to be gathered off-site, this is certainly permissible.

How many people can be on a team?

We recommend working in teams of 2-6 people.

Do I need a team to sign up?

No, we will take individual registrations and form teams from the single registrants. We want teams of at least two or more, to give each non-profit a strong design team. Any individuals interested in being added to a team should contact Tiffany Fettig at launchpad@greaterbemidji.com.

Will there be food?

Yes, we want you to worry only about the challenge at hand. Friday evening a pizza dinner will be served. Saturday, juice and rolls will be available for breakfast, with light snacks throughout the day. Feel free to bring your own munchies, if you wish. We encourage you to grab lunch from one of our downtown eateries on Saturday, if you so choose. Take out/delivery menus will be made available. Beverages, pop and water, will be available throughout the competition.

Can I start working before the True North Website Challenge starts?

No, you will not know the non-profit you are paired with until Friday evening. If you want to prepare for the challenge, focus on gaining experience with and knowledge of the tools you hope to use to build your site.

How does judging work?

Teams will demo their solution to a panel of judges, who will deliberate on their favorite submissions to choose the winners. Judging will be based on criteria of creativity, usefulness, technical difficulty, and form.

Is there a registration deadline?

The True North Hackfest Website Challenge scheduled for March 23 & 24  has been postponed due to low team registration. In an effort to improve the event and participation we urge you to take a moment to complete the survey at the link below.  It will give the planning committee valuable information as we move forward and design the next tech event.

Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HDHWD52

Deadline for the team registration is March 14, 2018. Due to the need to match teams with non-profits, we will not be able to accept late registrations. If the deadline date gets extended, we will post that on our Facebook page and this website.

Questions? Contact Tiffany Fettig

LaunchPad Coordinator
Phone (218) 444-5758