Tips to get the most out of hackathons


Hooray it is summer; there are lots of fun things to do. For those in technology, attending hackathons are a must. Wait, wait, wait, hacka…what? Hackathon is normally an event that last one to several days bringing together a large number of computer programmers engaging in intensive, collaborative software development projects such as web and mobile applications.

If you are new or have very little experience with hackathons, here are six important things to keep in mind once you decide to attend one.

1. Register Early
During summer many programmers enjoy attending hackathons, therefore tickets go fast. Most hackathons are free for students to attend; therefore, these tickets go faster. The earlier you register, the better.

2. Be prepared
Visit the hackathon’s dedicated website at least a week before the event. Find out about the sponsors new or main technology they expect you to work on.

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3. Pick your team ahead of time and/or network
Sometimes you have friends that share your ideas, you can get together and start brainstorming. Also, you can learn new technologies from sponsors together. Do not worry if you do not have friends that are attending, hackathons organizers usually offer networking opportunity during breakfast to meet new and awesome people to form teams before everyone roll their sleeves.

4. Diversify your team
Usually teams have up to five participants, make sure at least your team include, a product designer, a front end, and a back end programmer.

5. It’s about the project and teamwork, not about you
We all know despite all the fun you can have at a hackathon, the best part is to take home prizes and if your idea is so awesome you may find an investors willing to help finance your possible start up. Therefore, demo time is crucial. From my experience, I have seen people coming to hackathons with great ideas, however with no technical or business background, which is not a problem. The issue is when they expect the programmers do all the work, while they want to do all the talking. My advice when it comes to demo time, if you did not do any of the programming work, it is best to identify and assign each task to the person that can best translate it to the judges, let the backbone of the programming work do the demo, and unless you have business background, have the person who can best project your business model handle the questions. Usually some of the judges are angel investors who would like to fund your idea. You have a very short amount of time to impress them, make it last.

6. Have fun
I know all the stress that comes with having a short amount of time to work on a project, but that does not mean you have to keep your head down on a computer for 2 or 3 days, you can still try to know each other and crack some jocks now and then. Be supportive of one another, if your skill set does not match the idea of your team, do not stay in a corner feeling bored, this is an opportunity for you to learn something new.

Happy Hacking!!!



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