By Martyn Ruks
What we've come to realise by running the event for many years now is that the HackFu Mind isn’t something that’s restricted to the contestants at HackFu, it’s a common thread throughout everyone involved. So if you are looking to run your own event then our advice would be to find people who fit that description.
However, us trying to explain what you should look for in your “HackFu Hosts” isn’t easy, so to help you understand what type of people work best we'll let some of them tell you about themselves in their own words.
So here are the fabulous hosts of “HackFu 2015 – RCP Ashwell” to tell you their story.
A. Charlotte and I (Justin) started our business last year, with us both having worked in the Prison Service it seemed only right that we end up running a business in a Gaol (or Jail to those not familiar with the old English spelling).
A. The Gaol Events, offers a multitude of activities on site, from Airsoft, paranormal evenings and Filming Location to private hire of the venue for Companies to run their own events, with 4 of the former HMP Ashwell prison wings it offers a prison experience you're unlikely to get anywhere else (unless you are sent to prison that is).
A. As the site owner, we were involved in hiring the site to MWR for their event but also catering for the attendees throughout the three days. We also helped source certain items required for the event, enabling MWR to transform the prison into RCP Ashwell as well as helping them to get all of their puzzles and challenges up and running within the site
A. Our initial reaction was one of uncertainty as we were unsure if the venue would be suitable for the needs of the event. We’re sure that MWR would admit themselves that it’s tough to describe what HackFu actually is, while doing it justice, so being completely new to the concept it was tough for us to visualise what it actually was. However, in the months following the initial meeting we started to understand a bit more about what it would be like and then became more and more intrigued as to what the event would be like when it arrived.
A. We run a wide variety of different events on site so have built up a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t. We know where the “ghosts in the machine” are so to speak, or even the ghosts in cell number … wait, that’s one for you to work out. In all seriousness though the Team at MWR were great in taking on board some of our advice based on all of our experience. That’s really important when your event is at a site that you’re using for the first time. Falling into the pitfalls others have encountered when operating on such a diverse and complex estate would be foolish and the organisers at MWR were really keen to learn from us and prevent this from happening to them.
In terms of specific ideas that we contributed about the theme and concept, well The Rutland Corporation was an idea we have used previously and we were happy for this to be used by MWR in their scenario. Our background in the prison service also enabled MWR to create a highly authentic event where the attendees were really able to experience some of the unique atmosphere of a prison. Another area we were able to contribute is to take advantage of some of our current suppliers, saving MWR the time and effort of finding props and other items to add some nice touches to the event.
MWR also told us that giving them the ability to be creative in the puzzles and activities they devised was important. From our perspective this was more about keeping out of their way, lending a hand when needed but otherwise feeding their creativity.
A. We can honestly state the event was amazing, as we were providing the catering and supporting the organisers we were too busy to get to see all of what took place. However, what we saw and experienced was a pleasure to behold, with such a great group of friendly like-minded individuals.
A. We had no idea what to expect from the event, but we were blown away by the attention to detail regards the challenges and activities that where in place for the attendees. We still don’t know if we could easily describe what HackFu is to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but in some ways that’s a good thing.
A. Be prepared to work tirelessly for the 3 days, but the satisfaction of being part of events such as this is well worth the time you put in. Also, don’t be afraid to throw ideas into the mix during the planning stages, your knowledge and experience of your venue or site can be invaluable to someone running an event like this. It says it all that we would welcome MWR back anytime at all to run another event on site.
A. If anyone is unsure whether to attend something like this I would say definitely do it. At HackFu we chatted to people from a wide variety of backgrounds, with different skills and who took very different things away with them. If you come along it’s an experience you won’t forget and the more you put into the event the more you will get out of it.
A. An absolutely amazing experience.
We’d like to add to those words with a few of our own to help summarise what a great HackFu Host is for anyone looking to run a similar event.
As you heard from Justin and Charlotte they weren’t afraid to get involved in the planning, were happy to bounce ideas off and were a great source of advice about the theme, the site and the local area. They also gave us plenty of scope to be creative, come up with crazy ideas and then to support them any way they could.
As an event organiser that’s the perfect combination and are key things to look out for when searching for your amazing venue and hosts.
If this has inspired you to go and organise your own event then a final tip is to point your potential hosts at this article so they can see things from the hosts point of view. It's something we'll be doing when we find our preferred venue for the next HackFu!
In our opening article we discuss how we see the problem space and what some of the challenges are so given all of that, what are we looking to achieve with this website.
As we said previously we don’t claim to know all the solutions but we are certainly trying things that will enable us to find them. Along the way we’ll learn lots of lessons, we’ll no doubt have a few false starts but we’ll also get some stuff right. It’s that journey that we’re going to share on this site, including all the initiatives and events that we’re planning to run to support it all.
We don’t know yet exactly what will be on this site but the one thing we’re certain of is that it will be thought provoking, philosophical, challenging and most importantly it will be fun and engaging. We’ll get techie at times, something we make no apology for, as well as extracting the concepts and key points that we encounter along the way.
We also want your help on our journey. We want you to tell us your thoughts and experiences of what we’re doing and hopefully some stories about how you’ve taken our ideas and turned them into your own projects, events and general awesomeness. We want to know the good, the bad and the ugly and to get involved please get in contact via Twitter and then keep coming back to this hub for more insight and information.
So hold on tight, this will be a wild ride for all of us.