What’s the Carolina Challenge Makeathon?

Briefly, it’s a cross-campus competition centered on making physical or digital prototypes which solve social impact problems. Check out the What’s the Makeathon? page for more information.

Who can participate?

The Carolina Challenge Makeathon is open to all UNC undergraduate and graduate students.  All majors are welcome! UNC Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and other interested community members are encouraged to get involved by signing up to mentor or donate.

What skills do I need to participate?

An interest in making, innovation, social impact solutions, and collaboration is all that’s required! Carolina Challenge Makeathon welcomes people of various skills and backgrounds. Whether you’re the type of person who loves designing, coding, crafting, making, public speaking, community service, lab work, etc., the Makeathon is the place for you! Your diverse background, experience, and skills will make your team stronger, which will make your product more dynamic. With every new idea, Makeathon will become more awesome for everyone involved.

What’s the time commitment?

We estimate that each of your teammates will need to devote at least 15 - 20 hours to the Makeathon throughout the week (you may spend more hours depending on your ambitions for the week!). There are only two events throughout the Makeathon week that are required: the Kickoff event on Sunday, February 10th and the Pitch Finale Event on Saturday, February 16th.  However, we are offering a plethora of helpful office hours and workshops, so it’s to your advantage to attend as many events as you can throughout the competition to hone your product and skills. Sessions will be recorded for the convenience of Makeathon participants to review as we know schedules vary.

How does the scoring work for the Finale Event?

Final product presentations, aka “final pitches”, will be judged by an expert panel who will evaluate on the following criteria:

25% Business Model, 25% Prototype, 25% Pitching Ability, 25% Social Impact Solution

Further details on scoring will be provided upon entry to the Makeathon, but reach out to callie@launchchapelhill.com with any questions in the meantime.

Are there prizes?

Yes!  Over $10K in prizes will be given away at the end of the week in the culminating Makeathon Pitch Finale wherein teams will pitch their product and venture ideas before a panel of expert judges and allocate prize money! Additionally, the top ten teams will have the opportunity to participate in a 6-week workshop series to help build a business model and present in the Innovation Showcase on April 11th for a chance to win more funding and a summer fellowship to go all in on your venture!

How can my team sign up to participate?

The application can be accessed on our Makeathon Application page. Please review the rules and requirements before submitting your application.

I’m interested in the Makeathon, but I don’t have a team… what do I do?

No team yet? We’ve got you covered!  Join our Facebook group to find others looking to form a team or add team members: facebook.com/groups/uncmakeathon

What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprises are often started by people who are passionate about making a difference. Often it is not the actual ‘business’ that captures their imagination, but the impact it will have for the social or environmental issues they are seeking to address. 

Social enterprises have the following characteristics:

  • Have an economic, social, cultural, and/or environmental mission aligned to public or community benefit.

  • Work with, not against, markets to create sustained change.

  • Derive a substantial portion of their income from earned-revenue. 

  • Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfillment of their mission.

How might your idea realize social impact?

Depending on their motivation, organizations intentions to create impact range from broad commitments such as “to leave a positive mark on the world” to more detailed objectives such as “to support a specific social or environmental outcome”. These intentions are the ABCs of social impact. Where does your idea fit?

A: Avoid Harm (Example: An inner-city bus company that mitigates its emissions and runs on renewable energy)

B: Benefit People and the Planet (Example: A low-cost nutritional product to substitute unhealthy snacks at schools)

C: Contribute to Solutions (Example: A chain of hospitals providing life-saving medical care to those with no previous access)

How is social impact measured?

Social impact is measured and managed along several dimensions. Consider the following:

  • What is the outcome you aim to create?

  • Who is experiencing the problem that you aim to solve?

  • How much change is expected? Is your solution broad or deep, and over what time frame? 

  • What is your solution's contribution to the outcome relative to existing solutions? 

  • What are the risks to your stakeholders in not achieving your desired outcome?

Think of something we didn’t cover?

Please email us at makeathon@unc.edu and we’ll be happy to help!  Someone else probably has the same question and we’d love to keep expanding our FAQ page with your valuable feedback.