How to win the hackathon

    We know that the main thing is participation (networking, empowering and any other beautiful Anglicism). But let's count. Two days of intensive coding from morning to late evening is about 30 hours of work, and the work of a team of 5 people. If you don’t get at least some kind of reward for it, then you leave the hackathon at best with a free sandwich in your hand and with a crutch code, which, of course, you promise to finish yourself literally this coming weekend, that is, never.

    With these seditious thoughts, we came to the developers who were on both sides of the barricades: they participated in the hackathons and tried them. And they asked for advice on how to win the hackathon, since you came to it.


    Come with your team

    If the main goal is to win, come with your team. Take friends or colleagues with whom you have worked and are 90% sure of them. Such teams wander from one hackathon to another, developing their ideas and creating pet projects. Each participant does their part of the work and knows how not to break the code of the neighbor.

    But those who first met each other need more time to discuss the details. Loners who came to the event, as a rule, are distributed randomly. With such a team, you can also win, but it all depends on the human qualities of the participants: there are people who close themselves from everyone and do not let anyone near them. When professional developers gathered in the team and they quickly found a common language, the chances of winning are high.

    Dmitry Meshkov, member of the jury of Unblock Hackathon: “From the experience of previous hackathons, I can say that the teams that have already come together that come to us do not necessarily take prizes. I would not call it a major advantage. But it is important that the team includes specialists of a different profile in order to both think over the project, implement it well, and arrange it well. ”

    Agree on the distribution of tasks

    Distribute tasks and record in the document who is responsible for what. The team has a limited number of people, so it’s not worth making a separate manager. However, someone must take on the role of team leader and make sure that everything is going according to plan.

    Sergey Tolmachyov, member of the jury of Unblock Hackathon: “The most important thing on the hackathon is to break up and divide the work and work, and not talk to talk. The winners are those who have more people in total, who can quickly do their part and synchronize. Maybe there will be time. ”

    In the evening on the first day, arrange a stand-up: what has been done, what is not, where there are problems. And agree on what time everyone comes tomorrow.

    Make friends with the organizers to understand them

    As often as possible, contact the mentors and curators from the organizers who help teams. Ask questions about the technology, communicate with the developers of the API service. First, it helps to ensure that your team correctly understood the TK. Secondly, not all hackathons have clear criteria for evaluating projects. Communication with the organizers helps to understand what they want from the participants.

    “Sometimes, two words that have recently appeared in the jury’s head are important in the end. They will hear them in the pitch of the project - that's all, he won, - says Maxim Marashan, a participant in several Moscow hackathons. - And vice versa, there is a team on almost every hackathon, to which the jury reports: it’s good that you did it, but this is not what we asked for. This is an unpleasant situation for everyone, including members of the jury. ”

    With the help of hackathons, companies are looking for new ideas, which is why marketers and product owners often sit on the jury. If they are interested in one of the projects, the organizers will mark such a team.

    Sergei Tolmachyov: “This will not necessarily ensure victory, but may affect further interaction with the participants - maybe they will be offered a place in the company if they have shown their expertise in working on a project that is promising for business. But a good task to accomplish can be better than doing a simple one: more people could solve a simple thing than a difficult one. ”

    Evaluate the jury: techies usually look not only at the outer shell of the project, but also on the technical side. They will open the code and study it more closely if they begin to doubt the winners.

    Keep track of time

    Get enough sleep. Coding all night means worse thinking the next day. In addition, it destroys the chances of a beautiful presentation: the pitch will be in the evening when there is no strength left at all.

    Even at the stage of inventing ideas discuss how to represent it on the pitch. Recently, Russian hackathons have begun to pay more attention to the technical side, they are looking at the code and architecture of the solution. But the final view of the project still matters. Be sure to rehearse a performance at least a couple of times.

    Mikhail Shukshin, Unblock Hackathon winner and hackathon participant in Minsk, Bangalore, Hong Kong and London: “Presentation plays a very big role, especially on foreign hackathons! Better at the same time creating an idea to think about how to present it on a pitch. When there is only half an hour left on the presentation, it’s a failure. Although in Russia they traditionally look more at the technical component and the code is also shown as a presentation. ”

    The pitch will have to show how your decision works, so a beautiful wrapper will increase the chances of winning. Moreover, in two days it is difficult to write the perfect backend. Disguise flaws can strong fronder - if, of course, you are lucky and he is in the team.

    Sergey Tolmachyov: “If the solution not only works, but also looks beautiful - this is always a plus. If it looks good, but does not work - it is unlikely. Often, working on a difficult task, the guys manage to do a lot, but they don’t reach the back-end at all, and this is not fatal. ”

    Get ready in advance

    It is necessary to live not only until Sunday evening, but also until Monday morning - to go to work (unfortunately). Therefore, sleep better in advance. Take with you charging, flash drives, install all the necessary programs, check the mobile Internet. Chocolate and a tablet from the head can also be useful.

    Often on the hackathon, the organizers offer to use their services. There will be no time for learning primitive things, therefore it is better to get acquainted with technology in advance.

    And think about what the hackathon can give, besides the prize - who knows who this time will turn to?


    In December, the Waves Platform and Binary District conduct a hackathon where you can check all these tips. We promise clear tasks, clear criteria for evaluating projects and a separate mentor-curator for each team - come!

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