Case Study: TiE Silicon Valley’s SmartCities Hackathon

Change isn’t hard when you coordinate the efforts of many people. Consider challenges as tough as changing behavior around parking, water access and waste management for the cities of the future. These problems already plague cities managers and will only intensify as urban populations become more dense.

When you look at the scope and complexity of these problems, it’s easy to get
discouraged. There’s not much that a single person can do, even if that single person is a billionaire philanthropist. The good news is that there are more than 7 billion people who have a vested interest in making the world a better place. In some ways, none of the world’s problems are as daunting as figuring out how to foster productive collaboration among bright individuals.

The ability to coordinate the efforts of many people can turn unproductive brainstorming sessions into a better future. Here’s a great real world example of how marketing is making change both possible and practical.




TiE: A Global Icon

The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Silicon Valley has been fostering innovation for nearly a quarter of a century. Its core members come from entrepreneurs, executives and senior business leaders with roots in the Indus region of Southern India.

They promote many events throughout the year, but in 2016 they wanted to launch something truly original and uniquely valuable for the world at large. Their SmartCities Hackathon concept was designed to bring together some of the world’s most creative coders to fix one specific piece of the future. This initiative featured the theme “Tackling the World’s Urban Social Issues.” Coding teams would compete for cash prizes by creating IoT applications to attack three critical infrastructure problems in rapidly expanding urban zones:

Finding creative ways to eliminate the vast amounts of garbage and waste

Providing adequate water management solutions in the hotter, dryer cityscape of the

Reducing pollution through smarter parking procedures inside the city

It was an exciting proposal, but it was risky and time sensitive. TiE Silicon Valley didn’t know what kind of communications campaign would impel coders to actually set their lives aside to take part in the event. The Hackathon’s PR marketing and content messaging had to be right the first time because the schedule didn’t allow for course corrections.

How TiE Found Their Coders

From the very beginning, it was clear that the TiE’s SmartCities Hackathon event couldn’t achieve its objectives without a large and diverse number of teams in competition. TiE Silicon Valley needed to publish content marketing that captured the imagination of coders and inspired them to sign up, even without any solutions in mind or a complete coding team.

A great deal was riding on the message. It was so complex and the target audience so geographically dispersed that simply broadcasting a general message everywhere would never work. This also required getting the right kind of media coverage in influential industry channels. TiE Silicon Valley needed pinpoint accuracy, highly motivational copy and intelligent coverage. They sought out Novation Consulting to create a PR and event marketing campaign aimed at generating and maximizing engagement within specific coding communities.

The Solution: Three Paths to One Goal

Novation laid out a simultaneous three-pronged PR strategy for the Hackathon launch.

Part one involved outreach to select media outlets and insider contacts with a strong presence in social media, such as business/media bloggers, tech bloggers, designers/developers and technology publications.

Part two built on TiE Silicon Valley’s social networks through direct social media campaigns.

The third part maximized outreach to new audiences with Pay Per Click campaigns that returned valuable data resources on potential developers/participants. Deliverables ranged from traditional press releases and media kits to innovative Facebook ads and animated videos.

TiE PR case study

The Result: Cleaning the World With Code

In January of 2016, the first SmartCities Hackathon got underway with more than 100 teams of coders representing 50 cities from all over the globe, far exceeding Novation’s goals. Facebook ad traffic alone resulted in a 150 percent increase to TiE SmartCities Hackathon site visits during the six weeks leading up to the event.

Overall, the campaign returned 500K+ impressions on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the Hackathon garnered exposure in media outlets like Network World, which enjoys 4.3 million average monthly page views. In the end, the winning idea was a highly intelligent system of rerouting waste management resources in the city based on real-time data from IoT sensors. Even more promising, however, is TiE’s confidence these newly established connections among socially-conscious coding teams will prove to be invaluable for the future of everyone on the planet.









The Power to Drive Change

Change is the heart of commerce. In the real world, that means changing the consumer’s perception of a brand, introducing new business models on a grand scale or committing to behaviors that leave a better world for the next generation. It all starts with effective brand communications, which demands intelligent marketing. When you are ready to launch engaging brand PR or marketing campaigns for Q1 2017 and onwards, contact the experts at Novation Consulting. Novation helps create the dynamic brands that make change happen.