Ideas start with you.

In this article I will tell you how to prepare for a hackathon, and how participation in it will help you in life!

Hackathon - a strange word or crazy networking?

If, while living in the century of progress and technology, you still have not found out what this “terrible” word means, let's right now close this gap once and for all from your head.

Hackathon (hackathon) - a marathon, during which experts from different fields (programmers, designers, managers, analysts, product experts, economists, etc.) work together to solve a problem (case). Some hackathons are intended for educational or social purposes, but more often the hackathon's task is to create complete software. Typically, hackathons last 48 hours and are organized by a group of sponsors who are interested in getting a dozen commercial and technical ideas in a particular business area. For me, a hackathon is a good opportunity to get together with friends and work on creating some kind of project.

Hackathon VK 2017
Hackathon VK 2017

Two negatives make an affirmative!

Like any other event, participation in the hackathon has its pros and cons. Let's figure it out in order.

Think carefully about whether it’s worth it. Indeed, most likely, in order to participate in the hackathon, you will have to sacrifice your days off (since hackathons usually take place on weekends) and at bedtime, work at such events boils 24 on 7!

Such forums are terribly exhausting, because even it has been scientifically proven that prolonged mental work takes much more power than physical. But, personally, I’m ready for a couple of days to sacrifice this for the sake of an incredible competitive drive, team spirit, inspiration and emotions that overwhelm and charge you all along the “hackathon path”.

Do not forget that this is a great opportunity to prove yourself and show others what you are capable of, test your knowledge and gain new experience. Participation in a hackathon is a huge boost in knowledge that you are unlikely to gain on your own over the weekend. And also this is a large number of new friends who in the future may become your sponsors and investors. And, of course, a sea of ​​food and merchandise.

Registration for Breakpoint 2018 hackathon - 1st place, case from MegaFon
Registration for Breakpoint 2018 hackathon - 1st place, case from MegaFon

Success starts with you!

The first thing you understand when visiting a hackathon: teamwork is the most important thing! Therefore, I recommend that you gather like-minded people in advance and agree on roles. It is best to form a “backbone” of 4 people. If there are more people, it may be difficult to separate tasks. You can find a team at the hackathon itself, however, it will become for you a "pig in a poke."

Team building is worth starting with yourself. I advise all beginners to write out their skills and competencies on a piece of paper. For example, I know Photoshop, analyze well, develop for iOS, etc. Even the most commonplace things, like “brewing 50 varieties of tea”, can come in handy for you (but this is not accurate).

The leader of the team (CEO project) plays a big role. He needs to develop a strategy and bring it to the team members. To collect all the accumulated material into a single whole and speak in defense of the project, the presentation of which should be concise, but at the same time structured, containing theses, conclusions and infographics.

Work in a team is more productive if it consists of a CEO project, two designers (one of which is responsible for the presentation), Frontend and Backend masters.

Teamwork comes first!
Teamwork comes first!

Fear has big eyes!

Fear is the main problem of many guys. Do not be afraid that you will not be able to assemble a team or formulate thoughts when submitting a project. There is nothing impossible in this world! But do not overestimate your strength: work out every little thing, and most importantly learn to speak beautifully. Before my eyes, teams rained with a ready-made solution to the problem and a prototype, whose representatives simply could not answer the questions. Answering questions is an art!

Workflow at Mendeleev Hackathon - 2nd place, case from the Russian Technical University named after  DI.  Mendeleev
Workflow at Mendeleev Hackathon - 2nd place, case from the Russian Technical University named after DI. Mendeleev

From concept through forms to content!

“Idea-design-product” - this is the sequence in which the case on the hackathon should be implemented!

Oddly enough, but most of the participants that I encountered simply did not understand the essence of the task and did not represent the algorithm for solving the problem or its final result. Because of these errors, teams cannot assemble a project into a finished product! The main condition that a hackathon participant should be guided by is to do for people. Only in this way will you get something truly high-quality.

Preparation for the hackathon should begin from the moment you found out about it! Be sure to study the hackathon theme and immediately sketch out ideas that you can try to implement during the event. The main thing is not to forget to take charging for a laptop and phone. Also, the HDMI cable and Thunderbolt 3 (for your MacBook) will not be superfluous.

Do not forget that time at the hackathon plays against you. Personally, I always wanted to do more and better. New ideas that needed to be integrated into the project arrived constantly.

Generating an idea is 30% of the time. In order for the final product to become successful, it is important to monitor startups and observe how the world lives. You must travel and not get hung up on one thing, be open and offer yourself to society!

From concept through forms to content!
From concept through forms to content!

A raw product is not a problem!

In the finale of any hackathon, you must be prepared to voice the goals and objectives of the project, describe the target audience and market prospects, and demonstrate a working MVP or source code.

Often, participants do not always have time to do everything 100% - this is normal! Try not to delve into the implementation if you are not sure that you will manage to finish everything by the end. The main thing is the concept of an idea! Do not repeat ready-made solutions, try to come up with something new and take participation in the hackathon as a starting point for creativity! Before defending a project, each team member must answer the question “Why?” he makes this product and what awaits it (the product) next!

After the end of the hackathon for 2-3 weeks, the idea is incubated. The success of the prototype developed during the hackathon largely depends on the following activities: organizing a startup, attracting investments, filling out patent applications, but this is a completely different story ...

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