Hackathons offer a platform to showcase your ideas to a panel of experienced judges, with the possibility of securing funding and gaining exposure for your project. However, winning a hackathon requires careful preparation and strategic execution. Let's delve into the valuable insights and tips shared by tech entrepreneur Yip Thy-Diep Ta, a seasoned hackathon judge and co-founder of DLT Talents. Here is a look at factors to consider before and during a hackathon to increase your chances of success.
Build your hackathon team: project lead, designer, and builder
To assemble your team, study the hackathon website. Understand the participating companies, the challenges, and the required skills. This knowledge will help identify the ideal team members.
“The biggest challenge I’ve noticed when I look at different teams is submission. It’s not about winning, but getting to the end and submitting an entire solution is already a big step,” shares Yip. This would require someone on the team who could act as a project manager and is also good at storytelling. This person would help build the product and communicate what your team is building when you present.
Yip also advises having at least one previous hackathon participant on your team and having someone who can build the product from the conception level. She stresses the need for a diversity of skills. Another essential member of your team would be a designer. “Sometimes it’s not quality, but more about the bigger vision you represent and how well you show it to the audience.”
Structuring your time: 20,40,20 and another 20
Proper time management is crucial throughout the hackathon process. Allocate the initial 20% of your time to scoping and discussing your idea with your team. Gather feedback and ensure everyone is aligned with the vision. As Yip recommends, the subsequent 40% should be dedicated to building the product, while another 20% should be set aside for testing and presentation. To allow room for iteration and improvement, seek external feedback from mentors or other teams. Additionally, prioritize team well-being and foster a positive learning journey together.
Onboarding a team without funding: tokenize your project
Securing skilled coders for your project before obtaining funding can be challenging. To overcome this, consider tokenizing your project from day one. By implementing an equal shares agreement and distributing tokens, you can attract freelancers and compensate them while building your product.
Finding mentors at hackathons: build networks
If your target at a hackathon is to build a good network and expose yourself to potential partners and investors, then a team member, likely the project manager, must spend time on-site or online building relationships with prospective mentors.
“One of the reasons it makes a lot of sense to go to big hackathons with good mentors is because it is the most efficient way of networking. On the technical side, it also helps to have good connections and ask these mentors for feedback because you can save a lot of time.”
This is particularly true for blockchain projects because technical stack documentation for blockchain products could be better, and there may be solutions you are trying that have been tested and failed in the past. So instead of fooling around too much, your time would be better spent asking people who have built similar projects “because they are likely there as a mentor for you.” How to stand out from others around you at a hackathon?
Standing out from the crowd: just submit!
Yip Thy-Diep Ta emphasizes the importance of submitting your work.
“I think that’s the most important thing. It sounds so stupid, but you have to submit it. Many teams don’t get to submission because they don’t agree on what the scope is and don’t get to finish whatever they want to build. So better done than perfect.”
Clearly define your goals for the hackathon to maximize your time investment. Whether you aim to meet potential co-founders, hire a tech team, secure investment, or form strategic partnerships, strategize accordingly. Lastly, enjoy the hackathon experience and embrace the opportunity to work closely with others in a time-compressed environment.
How hackathons change lives: career growth and connections
Yip Thy-Diep Ta expresses her amazement at how hackathons have transformed many lives, particularly for women. Hackathons provide a gateway to career transitions and industry growth. Participants become part of a thriving ecosystem where connections are made, and individuals can progress together. Building a sustainable business becomes easier when you are well-connected, have industry peers, and are just a phone call away from the resources you need.
Perfecting your final pitch: final 20 percent of your time
Devote at least 20% of your participation time to honing your pitch. Seek feedback from other teams and mentors to refine your presentation. Pitching your idea multiple times while building the product will provide invaluable insights. Not only can this attract ambassadors for your product, but it may also catch the attention of potential investors who are keen to understand what is being developed.
Armed with Yip Thy-Diep Ta's expert advice, you are now well-equipped to excel in hackathons. Remember to study the hackathon details, recruit a diverse and skilled team, manage your time effectively, embrace the network-building opportunities, and focus on completing and submitting your work. Hackathons have the power to change lives, and by leveraging these valuable insights, you can enhance your chances of success in these dynamic events. Are you ready to build a team and present your ideas at the upcoming Soonami Hackathon? It's time to make your mark!
Register here 👉 soonami.io/hackathon