First Time Joining a Hackathon? Don't Make These Mistakes...
Bad preparation - no good
Be prepared for your first hackathon adventure. Read our blog "The best preparation to hack-a-way" and know what to do.
Set tasks for your team members
Get to know the qualities of your team members, so you all know each other's strengths and weaknesses. The most common mistake in teamwork is not taking the time to get to know each other. Make sure you take some time to do this at the beginning of the hackathon - in case you don't know each other yet. The next thing to do is making a global planning with a specific goal, which has to be achieved while "hacking". By setting clear tasks for yourself and your team members you will avoid disagreements, work more effective and increase the chance on a successful and working prototype at the end of the hackathon.
Setting the bar to high
A common mistake during hackathons is a too ambitious prospect. During a hackathon you are building a prototype. It is impossible to come up with an end-to-end solution, because there is simply no time enough to do that. Most of the time the winning teams exercise wise project management by using their resources wisely and pacing themselves. Demos come very quickly at the end of a hackathon. New teams often forget - in the heat of the moment - to have something ready to show. Be sure you can scale back your idea enough, so you are able to show a prototype at the demos. Otherwise you will be left with the prospect of just showing a Powerpoint - and these teams often don't win.
Take a break - have a (hack) snack
In topsport the saying is like this: rest and recover is as important as training. This is also important for hackathon participants. Remember to get up from your desk, stretch your shoulders and wrists, go get a drink en have a snack. By changing your position, taking a walk and being in another environment for just a second, you can get that genius solution for that one big problem you are already working on for the last two hours. Sometimes walking away from the code and coming back after taking a break makes all the difference - it's just that simple.
Not sharing ideas
Are you worried that someone will steal your good ideas? Relax - no worries. This doesn't happen as often as you think. See the other hackathon participants not as competitors, but as colleagues. By sharing your idea and interacting with them, they can help you by suggesting aspects that will give your idea that distinctive character it needs - this way they will lift your idea to an higher level.
A known quote from the film "The Social Network" says:
If you were the inventors of facebook, you would have invented Facebook
Not having fun - and forgetting to enjoy
Most important of all: do not forget to take a moment to stand still, look around you and enjoy the crazy, energetic vibe a hackathon has! Enjoy what you are doing, because this will give you the energy to achieve your goal and make that cool prototype. Most of the time, you are joining a hackathon in your free time, so make sure you get something out of it and don't burn yourself out.