Whether it's your first or your fifteenth, each hackathon is a different, energy-draining, caffeine-consuming beast.
My first hackathon was a classic: white-knuckle worked till 3 a.m., inhaled caffeine (in this case, chai tea in Nepal), ate greasy pizza (and dal bhat), and concluded the Final Pitch session with a rousing dance party set to Nepalese rock and roll. Like I said, classic.
My second hackathon was nerve-wracking in a different way: I organized and ran it. And there's nothing more terrifying and exhilarating than growing a breathing, raging colony of startups exploding to life in 24 hours.
My third hackathon is coming up, ATHack! in San Francisco, which brings together activists and technologists to fight human trafficking.
After being on both sides of hackathons, here are four tips to unleash the badass in you at your first hackathon.
- Go for diversity on your team. Having a team of all coders at a hackathon isn't ideal and will leave you struggling in areas like business development, user research and marketing. Advocate for a well-balanced group: two to three developers, a designer, a topic expert, and a business-savvy person. Your hackathon pitch shouldn't just be technically sound, but also pitch-worthy and user-friendly.
Go forth and hack! The future of the world (or at least the future of your next passion project) could depend on it.
Justine is a co-founder of ATHack! , bringing activists and technologists together at the first ATHackathon on April 29, 2016 in San Francisco.