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What not to do in a Hackathon

Ideas win Hackathons
While the above statement might be true, there is just a little modification which is needed.
Idea wins Hackathons
I learnt this the hard way. And if you didn't get the full difference, that's what this blog is for.
The previous month gave me two opportunities to build something amazingly innovative. While I did exactly that on both the occasions, I failed to make it to the win.


We did not have one great idea. We had 2 great ideas.
Somehow, we tweaked both of them to present them as 1 great idea!
If this is sounding like one good no-sense poem, give it a rest.

Often in Hackathons, the team formed has multiple interests/talents. A particular member might be an expert in some framework/language and another might have a flair for another. It's important to coordinate all activities for the project.
However, finding one project that actually has so many activities which can be done by all members is a rather tough task.
Naively, we thought of 2 different projects, both of which were amazing, and combined them as one project, inter-knitting their features together.

When the judgement round arrived, the audience (judges) didn't seem to agree with the joining of the 2 projects in the first place. And here's the thing, no matter if they love even one of your ideas, the entire debate would just pivot towards the question of joining the 2 projects together.
No one is looking at your idea(s), but it's your decision skills into question. The judge probably thinks that there is a good reason for it which will make this project one GREAT project. But nope, you know the reason is just to even stuff out, or get as many bounty prizes as you can.

Thus, here's my shortest advice:
If you're building something at a Hackathon, just build on one Idea. No matter how uncomfortable everyone in your team might be, make sure that all of you are contributing only towards a single idea.
Don't worry about the silliness of your idea. One of the many things I learnt from these Hackathons is, if there's no real conflict of thought with the judge, even the silliest of ideas make it to the finals.
There are a few things that matter in the first round:

  • A clear concept of what the idea is.
  • A rather good reason to pursue this idea. 
  • Just ONE idea.
  • Confidence.
Here are a few things that matter in the finals:
  • Confidence.
  • The features that you have added, which shows how much work you've done in such a short span
  • The UI, it helps to blow off the audience.
  • The presentation. 


  1. Precisely what hackathon participants have to keep in mind. I have participated in a few hackathons, but could never make it to the finals. Luckily, I got much exposure to find my interests and a chance to work on some good projects.

    Moreover, as K Vaitheeswaran (father of E-commerce in India) says :

    "Success teaches you a chapter, failures teach you the whole syllabus"


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