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My Hackathon Experience

sagarbarapatre profile image Sagar Barapatre ・4 min read

Over the last two weekends, I participated in multiple hackathons. The Hackathons were hosted by MLH Season 2021 and it was the first time I participated in the hackathon alone.
Although I didn't win any but surely it was a surreal experience.

So In this blog, I am going to tell my experience and learnings from hackathons. Let's jump into it! 👇

I participated in the online hackathon. All the below views are with context to it

📌 Finding a good hackathon:

• This is an initial step for getting to the environment. Now, what do I mean by that? Many hackathons are topic-centric like FinHack (which focuses on financial hackathons) etc. So if you are not familiar with all the techs used in fintech I won't suggest topic-centric hackathons.
• Instead of that try to find the hackathon which accepts the ideas from diverse tech stack as well eg: AR/VR/MR, AI/ML, BlockChain, Open Innovation, etc.
• Also, keep note of the side prizes like for eg: Best use of Linode or Best domain name registered or Best octocat drawing which run parallel to the main theme of the hackathon.
• At least try to complete 1 challenge from this category as well.

📌 Finding a team:

• Finding a team is an important point.
• You would like to have an open-minded and active team (Even if they have less knowledge) instead of having all the knowledgeable and inactive team.
• You can easily find the team members via social media, communities, developer groups, etc.
• While selecting a team make sure every team member is good at some of the other techs and will be able to devote the maximum time throughout the hackathon.

P.S. - Although I tried to find a team, but I didn't found any team. So I worked alone in the project.

📌 Ideas:

• The hackathon portal shows all the accepted techs in advance to their portals so you can start brainstorming with your team members and start gathering the resources you might require.
• Find an idea that helps the community out there.
• Do something that spreads awareness or helps people instead of building a money-making or profit-making model.
• Always think of an idea that can actually create a difference in society and can actually help the people out there.
• Take your time to finalize the ideas. Giving the time turns out with a lot of creative ideas.

📌 Team Work:

• After the hackathon starts officially you can get much information and doubts cleared in the opening ceremony of the event.
• Remember every team member of yours has some unique qualities and try to use them all to their fullest and distribute the work accordingly.
• If someone doesn't know something you are good at teaching them. This will increase your bonding and will boost their energy.
• Always be in consistent touch with each other and take constant follow backs of the work they are doing.

📌 Build:

• Building the project comes with lots of difficulties. So it is always useful to distribute the work and maintain the isolation of the tasks.
• Create milestones for your role and share those milestones will all of your team members. This helps in keeping the track of all the sections of the project.
• Don't forget to document the project side by side eg: Maintaining a Readme with all the info, screenshots, demo video, etc. this surely gives an extra edge to your project while they get reviewed by the judges' panel.

📌 Pitch:

Pitching has two phases:

🚩 Submission :

• Always submit a brief extract of the project. Describe the smallest detail while submitting.
• Create a prototyping video as well. (PPT with a voice-over)
• Add Screenshots and links to the deployed version, Prototype video, source code, etc

🚩 Video Pitching :

This usually happens on zoom.

• Try wrapping up the ppt presentation in approximately 2-3 min as they give restricted time to present.
• Give more time to present on the live deployed version or the project (Your work comes over the ppts)
• In 10 min divide the time wisely.
‣ 1 min for ppt presentation
‣ 3 min for a live demo
‣ 6 min for Q & A More time to q&a because this creates the final impression on the judges.

• Stick to the point and cause of the project while presenting and in QnA.

📌 Results:

Wait for the results and enjoy your efforts. Winning or losing doesn't matter at all. If you made friends, connections, awesome projects, had fun then you have already won! 🎉

📌 Personal Tips

• Don't start the project before starting the hackathon. This will raise the red flag while reviewing and sometimes they may disqualify
• Try to maintain frequent commits on the project repo instead of the entire project in a single commit. Otherwise, this may look copied.
• Try to enjoy the process and do for gaining experience instead of the prizes
• Always keep buffer time and milestones. This helps reduce the stress and change the plannings if needed.
• Keep healthy conversations with the team members.
• Help each other in completing their tasks as well.
• Seek help from the mentors and volunteers if needed. Trust me they are super helpful.

May you win lots of hackathons

Discussion (2)

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theowlsden profile image
Shaquil Maria

Great post!

I like that even though you did not win, you still kept a positive mindset about hackathons. Keep it up and hack on!

sagarbarapatre profile image
Sagar Barapatre Author

Thank you so much ! Glad you found it helpful 😇