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How can crack a Hackathon

I believe that many people have heard of the word — Hackathon. But what the heck is it?


What is a Hackathon?

A hackathon (also known as a hack day, Hackfest or codefest) is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including domain experts, collaborate intensively on software projects. — Wikipedia

In layperson’s terms, a hackathon is usually a 24~72 hour long event. The organizer will provide some challenges, and the participants will form teams and try to come up with their best ideas/solutions.

Eventually, the team(s) who presented the best ideas/solutions will get to win some cool prizes. Prizes can be cash or some gadgets. The agenda usually goes like this:


  1. Registration

  2. Introduction

  3. Team Formation

  4. Start Hacking

  5. Snacking (foods, snacks, midnight snacks, pizza…)

  6. Hacking Ends

  7. Presentations/Pitches & Judging

  8. Winner Announced


Let’s begin our journey and learn how we can crack the hackathon!




1. Unity is strength


To win the hackathon, you have to form your dream team. The first thing to do when you get to a hackathon is to form a team. You will be forming a team with random people, and ideally, a 3~5 person team is good.

Often, you will find that people there are equipped with different expertise. Don’t be afraid if you can’t code because that is absolutely fine.

Your mission is to find these 3 types of people and ask them to join your team (would be great if you yourself are one of these 3 as well):


  1. The Coder — You will need at least one person who can code. Someone with front-end or mobile development experience is even better. If your team doesn’t have a single person who can code, go find one.

  2. The Presenter a.k.a. The Salesperson — If you are very confident in building a great product, good to hear that. Though, if you can’t sell it to the audience, I’m sorry to tell you that no matter how great your idea is, you will most likely fail. Someone who can present well is very important here. I would even say that sometimes the presenter is even more important than the coder.

  3. The Designer — Now you have got someone who can code, someone who knows how to sell the idea, what’s next? You need someone who can make a nice user interface for the product. Although a designer is not a must, still, it is strongly recommended to have one in the team.


2. Set up group communication:

Set up a way for your participants to communicate digitally and stay in touch after the event. Some options are:

  • A chat room, like Slack

  • A social media channel, like a hashtag on Twitter or a Facebook group.

  • A shared document space, like Google Docs or Dropbox Paper.

  • An email list, like a Google Group.



3. The message behind

Developers love to hack, but software engineering as a profession can actually be quite mundane. We attend hours of meetings, give status reports, fix bugs, maintain legacy software, and work on less-than-exciting projects. Not all of us are out there changing the world and building the next hottest new technology.



4.Practice Your Pitch

The final stage of the hackathon is presenting your solution to the judges. Practice your pitch beforehand to ensure that you communicate your idea clearly and effectively. Your pitch should be concise, engaging, and demonstrate how your solution addresses the problem you identified.


5.Explore Something New

Hackathons are a great time to explore something new. When choosing a project for your next hackathon, don’t just do what you already do every day at work. Find something new! Hackathons are a time to branch out and to get out of your comfort zone.



6. Meet New People

Your goal might just be to experience what a hackathon is like. The high energy or late night might be just what you needed to rekindle the spark and remind you why you love programming.



7. Let The Coder shine

Ask the coder in your team to start building a Ppt(power point presentation). After coming up with a brilliant idea, make it real. This is the time where the coder and the designer have to work closely together.

A Ppt doesn’t have to be bug-free and it can actually have zero functionality. In fact, most of the time, more than 80% of the functions are hard-coded. It is just for visualization purposes, helping the audience understand how your product/idea works.

Although a Ppt doesn’t have to have all the functions, one important thing is that it must look good. Try to make it look really nice so that the judges can be impressed when they see your team coming up with such a beautifully designed product in a limited amount of time.



8. The Steve Jobs moment

Prepare for the presentation. Ideally, the salesperson can start working on the presentation while the Ppt is being built.

Sometimes, at least for me, the salesperson and the coder are the same person. In this case, work on the Ppt first, and depending on how much time you have left, you have to quickly decide which portions of your application need to be hard-coded.

I usually spend 2~3 hours preparing for the presentation. While preparing for my slides, I like to use the KISS principle — Keep It Simple Stupid.

Remember, we are not giving a lecture and we want people to buy our idea. We want people to listen to us. So always make your slides simple, the simpler the better.

You don’t have too much time. Thus, keep your presentation and slides concise. Here I’m going to tell you the secret (formula) on how to prepare for a 5 star presentation:

  1. Problem statements — We want to solve some problems using technology. Prepare a few slides telling people about the background of the problem that you are trying to solve.

  2. Demo — People get bored easily. After telling people what the problem is, straight away tell them how you are going to solve it. Quickly show them your demo and WOW them. (Please make sure your demo works!)

  3. Compare — Do a comparison. Is there already an existing solution to the problem, if there is, how is your idea better?

  4. Hidden Slides — Always prepare some hidden slides that discuss potential future enhancements of the idea, business model, and what are some difficulties you faced during the hackathon. These can be useful during the Q&A.



9. Prepare for the prize

Get yourself prepared for the prize. Of course it’s not guaranteed, but If you follow all the steps I mentioned above, most likely you will win something.



10.Take Care of Yourself

Hackathons can be grueling events that require long hours of intense work. It is essential to take care of yourself during the hackathon. Take breaks, eat healthy, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. Taking care of yourself will ensure that you stay sharp and focused throughout the event.

In conclusion, winning a hackathon competition requires a combination of technical skills, creativity, teamwork, and effective communication. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can increase your chances of success and build a winning solution. Remember to have fun, learn from the experience, and connect with other participants. Good luck!



11. One last thing

Don’t forget to say bye to your lovely teammates. Bring the prize home and take a long rest.

After you have had enough rest, don’t forget to come back to this story and give me some claps!


References:



I hope guys you will like my ideas to achieve hackathon.....

Thanks for Reading....

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