A Hackathon is a 24 to 48-hour event where your team must create an operational prototype for a product. Most teams create web or mobile applications, but some teams create physical hardware devices. The goal is to create something new and innovative, and ample preparation is necessary. 

To have an excellent Hackathon experience, there are certain things you should keep in mind. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started:

Start Strong with a Checklist 

Let's start with a list of everything you'll need to bring with you to the event: 

  • Your choice of extension cables and surge protectors
  • A sweater (since it's challenging to maintain the same temperature in every room)
  • Any portable power blocks you might have or prefer to bring
  • Bringing a pillow and a blanket is recommended for those who want to remain overnight.
  • For sketching up ideas and projects, you can use pens, paper, or any other tools that you choose.
  • A bottle of water
  • Snacks
  • Headphones
  • Hand sanitizer and a toothbrush
  • Wipes for the screen
  • Eyedrops
  • For downtime, you can use a Kindle, a book, games, or anything you like.

If you can see yourself needing anything for a sleepover or a day at the office, you should pack it just to be safe.

If this is your first time attending a corporate Hackathon event, here are a few things you should be prepared to encounter.

Begin With an Idea and a Conversation

Hackathons are heavily reliant on networking to be successful. When you arrive, you should make contact with as many people as possible—and as quickly as feasible.  If you're an introvert, this might be a difficult, if not impossible, task—but what exactly should you talk about?

As soon as you start talking about your thoughts, the conversation will quickly pick up momentum. If you don't have an idea, you may always ask someone else what they plan to do during the Hackathon. They are excited to have the opportunity to talk to you.

Form a Team

Once you have a concept and have assembled a team that appears to possess the required hacker power to construct a prototype, identify the individual capabilities of each team member. Are you an excellent marketer, a good developer, a good designer, or a good thinker with many ideas? 

If you're an excellent public speaker, take the initiative and volunteer to be the one to give the presentation. For the first part of the presentation, you try to convince the judges and the audience to accept your ideas.

Hackathons are insufficiently long to allow for on-the-job learning. If you genuinely want to make a difference, please be upfront with your colleagues about what you can bring to the table. 

If you don't know how to code and your team is counting on you to code something, you'll most likely let them down. Be honest on the get-go about your skillset and strengths.

Remember These Typical “Rules of Thumb”

1. Make Reasonable Expectations

It's tempting to join a Hackathon expecting to develop a 1.0 version of a product. In reality, with only 24 hours, you'll be lucky to build something that works and can be presented to others. However, make sure it's something you can build in 24 hours. You must dream big, but start small.

What can you create that is both easy and valuable to others? If in doubt, remove features rather than adding functionality. This is called a minimal viable product (MVP).

2.. Have a Good Time!

Remember that you are there to have fun. It's a competition, but it's also a place to explore, meet interesting people, learn new skills, and build something from scratch!

Don't beat yourself up if you don't meet your goals or win the competition—nothing more than having fun and giving it your all.

A hackathon allows you to show off your skills and express yourself. It's also a great place to learn new abilities, which is essential when building something new or venturing out of one's comfort zone.

After the event, make a note of what went well so you can repeat it next time. Everything that went wrong should be documented so you can avoid it next time and perform better. 

It is wise to estimate the entire cost of the event to prepare for the next. While you're taking notes, it is also helpful to write a blog entry about the event to inform others.

If you are interested in participating in the next event, Hackathon.com has you covered. We are the world's largest online Hackathon community, bringing together over 2000 Hackathon organizers and millions of member innovators from all over the world. Find fellow community members, potential teammates, sign up for our newsletter and read more tips on how to make your hackathon experience the best possible.