Whether you've previously participated in a hackathon or not, a strong team can make or break the entire experience. Even if you don't intend to compete for first place, a shaky team can ruin the entire hackathon experience.
Remember, hackathons can be nerve-racking experiences. Teams collaborate over a few days or a weekend to build a viable product, frequently working around the clock with little sleep or breaks. And in truth, only a well-coordinated team can make the process less daunting and more enjoyable.
Here are some essential quick tips for forming a winning hackathon team.
Pick Your Teammates Early
The best way to prepare for a hackathon is to start looking for teammates right away. Think of this as a “starting five.” Spread the word and gauge interest after deciding to participate in a hackathon and find your top players.
Start with your personal network and work your way up to well-known platforms and communities like Quora or Stack Exchange. It will also be helpful to attend developer and technology meetups.
Encourage Team Diversity
Diverse teams clearly outperform homogeneous teams. Look for teammates who are diametrically opposed to you when looking for teammates. You want a team with a diverse set of skills and abilities.
Diversification can be found in domains like business management, front-end development, and user experience design, as well as demographics like gender, race, and age.
From concept to execution, a diverse team can be extremely beneficial when it comes to domain diversity. A strong hackathon team will typically consist of people with complementary skill sets—for example, a project manager, a few coders, and someone to focus on design.
Having a diverse team with a wide range of skill sets and backgrounds will help you develop a viable product at the end of the hackathon.
Assign Roles Based on Core Competencies
Once you've assembled your team, it's critical to understand each member's unique strengths and approaches. Most hackathon teams only require a few roles, which can be quickly assigned based on each participant's core competencies.
This method of task assignment allows each team member to focus on their areas of expertise.
Prepare as much as you can—if time allows, run a simulated idea preparation exercise in which you divide the team into tasks and roles and observe how they interact. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed!
Find Like-Minded Teammates
While a positive team dynamic is important in any situation, hackathons add an extra layer of pressure, stress, and exhaustion if you're stuck with an ineffective team. Simply collaborate with people you enjoy working with and make sure everyone contributes.
Decipher the True Meaning of the Hackathon’s Message
This quick exercise has the potential to set your team apart by a long shot. It also helps to determine each member's ability to dig deep and think creatively.
Discuss the hackathon's message during the ideation phase. Determine the goals of the business, know who is the event's benefactor and they are related to the hackathon's organizer.
Prepare your team for success before the hackathon begins, or take advantage of this opportunity to identify your team's best members.
Power in Numbers
Regardless of your team’s skill level or expertise, it’s important to start great with the people you trust. Aside from the fun and camaraderie, you must come up with real solutions to real problems. You'll need a fantastic team to pull this off. After all, only a winning team can adapt to any situation, so make sure yours can!
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