Over the past year, Kambria has hosted four hackathons at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Fordham University and George Brown College in Toronto, Canada, and earned the top prize in the State of Chain Hackathon’s Healthcare Division. Sponsored by PWC, we beat 25 other teams from around the world innovating around blockchain technology. So, yeah, it’s safe to say we’ve learned a thing or two along the way about what separates winners from losers. Want to win your next hackathon and enjoy the fame and possible fortune that victory offers? Then keep reading for invaluable pro tips to rock your hackathon.
Understand Your Why
Before you even enter a hackathon, take a moment to figure why you want to participate in the first place. Hackathons have become popular for many reasons — the networking, the thrill of problem-solving, and yes, the food!
“I love hackathons. I can learn more in a day or two of hard work with friends than I could in six months studying on my own.” ~ Daniel Feldman
In fact, there are tons of great reasons to endure these rigorous development sprints. In addition to networking, some hackathons offer mentorship and recruiting opportunities. Be sure you’re well aware of the benefits and choose your event wisely.
Prepare and Make Your Own Luck
They say thorough preparation makes its own luck. So why not give yourself a boost and prepare in advance if possible? Before the hackathon, familiarize yourself with the list of resources below. This list was curated by Nik Kalyani, a seasoned hackathon judge and innovation expert. Keep these tools in your back pocket for an instant headstart.
- Snack — Fast React Native mobile app development with device preview
- Material Design Bootstrap — the world’s most popular framework for building responsive, mobile-first websites and apps
- Marvel — Wireframe, design and prototype fast with these intuitive design and prototyping tools
- JSON Server — get a full fake REST API with zero coding in less than 30 seconds (seriously)
- UI Design Patterns — User Interface Design patterns that solve common design problems
- Hackathon Starter — a boilerplate for Node.js web applications
- Reflector — mirror your phone, tablet or computer to the big screen without wires or complicated setups
Great stuff, right? If you’d like more tips from Nik, please check out his full presentation with tips on how to innovate and win hackathons.
The Heart of Your Success
The strength of your creation will lie in the strength of your team. The key here is to create a cross-functional comprised of members with complementary skills. If you have been a coder all your life, team up with a person who has been on the business side of things so that you can represent yourself well in all stages of the competition. For business-oriented hackathons, make sure you have at least one marketer on your team. For technical hackathons, it’s great to have a project manager/business analyst on your team.
To be sure, you don’t have to be the best developer if you have a good team because each person can work or focus on their area of expertise. If you’re good a backend, then tackle that. If you’re better at frontend and design, then stick with that. Are you good at speaking? Then you can be the team’s spokesperson and deliver the glorious winning pitch.
First Things First
After assembling your team, take time to really understand the challenge being proposed. Make sure you are solving the right problem! While this may seem obvious, it’s a step many teams overlook. It’s important that the entire team understands the business idea and how the team will approach translating it into a bonafide product.
Is That a Pie in the Sky?
Next step — consider whether your idea is feasible. Can it be readily deployed in the real world? We cannot stress enough the importance of the feasibility of the idea to heighten your chance of winning. Because many hackathons are sponsored by companies seeking new, real-world solutions, providing a prototype or a proven user case will place you higher than other teams. According to Kambria’s State of Chain Hackathon team member, Anthony Doan, feasibility is key. In his hackathon, the overall winning team was chosen because they had already launched their product to the market so they earned big points in the feasibility category.
You’ve worked day and night and survived the hackathon marathon. Now you’re ready for the big finale — the final pitch. Your presentation is your chance to connect with the judges and inspire them with the possibility and vision of your latest innovation. Take a look at these specific tips for a winning pitch.
- Target and qualify your opportunities — be specific and show the judges your work
- Analyze your stakeholders and competitors
- Create a compelling message with a clear structure and strong visuals that support your message
- State a clear point of differentiation between your idea and other options
- Remember to manage the process and keep your objective top of mind
- Communicate with confidence!
- Listen closely to questions from the judges to provide highly-relevant answers
Also, be sure to choose the member with the best public speaking skills to represent your team. Pitching skills are really important! According to Anthony, his team was weighted last amongst all six teams early in the competition, but later ranked high and eventually won their category thanks to a great presentation. Make your hours and hours of effort count by keeping all of these pointers in mind. Do that and your pitch will be solid.
Ready to Win? Upcoming Hackathons to Enter
Ready to dive and win your next hackathon? Super because we’ve got three great events for you to beef up your skills and showcase your development chops.
Blockchain Dapp Development Workshop
On April 6th, Kambria, TomoChain, and Alpha Blockchain Consulting will host a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam called How to Build Blockchain Applications. Through the workshop, we will showcase how the Kambria platform will be used by developers and hackers to form teams and submit their projects to our hackathon later in April. Tickets are nearly sold out; however, request your ticket for this workshop, as there may be some participants that do not show up. We will also reach out to those who sign up for future training events.
Building Blockchain Dapps on TomoChain, Powered by Kambria
As an ongoing effort to increase blockchain adoption, Kambria has partnered with TomoChain and Alpha Blockchain Consulting to host a 2-day hackathon on April 20th and 21st in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Participants will use the Kambria platform for team formation and project submission to create Dapps on the TomoChain blockchain. Everyone will have 24 hours to develop and demo an enterprise application or a game and then present it to the judges. Will victory be yours? Check out the event page for more information and click here to register.
Kambria Grand Challenge
The Kambria Grand Challenge, a series of global hackathons with a focus on creating the Ultimate Personal Assistant, launches this April! Using advanced Artificial Intelligence and Robotics technology, participants will develop an AI-based assistant that can help customers in various use cases like banking services, online shopping, and offline retail stores. Participants will utilize the Kambria platform to deliver solutions for our partners including top corporations in Vietnam such as SSI, VinGroup, VPBank, Techcombank, Kompa, and McKinsey with a chance to win up to $50,000 USD in prizes. To train, network, and compete with other teams across the globe, create a team now and stay tuned as we will announce the details soon.
The Kambria Team
KAT is a token used on the Kambria platform.