Below are our top 5 tips and tricks in order to have a successful and fun hackathon!
1. Planning and Preparation
Since time is a limited resource in a hackathon it is important to organize and setup any preliminaries beforehand.
Think about what tools you are most probably going to use (e.g. GitHub, WebStorm, PyCharm, Trello, ...) and make sure that everything is setup and working as expected,
so that when the timer starts you can get started right away and no time is going to waste.
Also take some time to think about a rough outline of the next few days. How are you going to start? How much time will you need to prepare the final presentation? It helps to have atleast an idea of what to do and what to expect.
Furthermore if you already got an idea try to set milestones for yourselves in order to compare your expected progres with your real one and adjust the project's scope accordingly. Just keep them small and achievable to stay motivated.
Since the topic of this hackathon is known beforehand (Tech for Good) you can and should start to brainstorm a little bit before everything sets off and ideally come up with an idea.
In order to develope a good idea it's good practice to first of all generate many ideas and filter them afterwards. This way you can pick the best one and also even merge some parts of different ideas to come up with an even better idea.
Afterwards it's best to define your MVP (=Minimum Viable Product) and think of what are the most important features this idea needs to have in order to work and give the user a good insight of what to expect in the full working version.
Furthermore you should prioritize your features and of course get the most important ones done first, so that if things get close at the end you can still cut some features off.
3. Communication is Key
It really is. Try to have a lot of meetings or even work together in live sessions so that you can communicate constantly, discussing and re-structuring different features.
In addition it is important to let your team mates know if you are stuck or there are any problems arising you can't solve on your own. That's totally Okay, we are all in this together, which is why it's crucial to solve those problems together.
Don't neglect the fact that in the end it's important to pitch your project, to really showcase it so that the judges get an idea of what the problem is that you propose a solution to.
Try to aim at getting ready about 2 hours before the submission deadline, in order to have enough time to prepare a good presentation of all your last 48h's accomplishments.
5. Take care of yourselves
A hackathon can be really exhausting since most of the participants try to code as long as possible. But remember that taking multiple short breaks keeps you focused.
Also get a decent amount of sleep, a few healthy meals in order to stay powered and of course stay well hydrated. Everything really helps to feel much better and ultimately more efficient at the end.
Furthermore a hackathon is not only about getting something done in 48h, but also about having fun and connecting to other people, so don't push yourselves to hard and don't worry if the end result doesn't turn out as expected or doesn't even get finished, that's totally fine.
In the end you will have gained a lot new experiences and hopefully have something to show off.