Everyone has at least one great idea, but it’s is all about the execution of it. A good start is to attend a hackathon with your idea, finding a solid team, and spending 3 days just focusing, building, and shipping the MVP of your idea! The LAUNCH Hackathon in San Francisco is one of the largest hackathons around and comes backed by entrepreneur and angel investor Jason Calacanis who offers the top 4 teams from the hackathon to attend the full LAUNCH festival, pitch their idea and MVP, and compete for an investment of $250,000!
So what are the keys to a successful hackathon?
The most important part of winning a hackathon is having a top team. Start early on to find a strong team that is willing to wage war for 48 hours (and for the many hours in the future) to build something stunning. Be social and meet, talk and discuss with people of different skill-sets and experiences before the date and in the morning of the hackathon. Lots of top team mates will come to hackathons without a team, so the morning of a hackathon is a great time to pick up new resources. You could get a group of friends together and get them to pitch why they should be part of your team. Spend time together, then you will find the team that has the passion, focus and seeking the opportunity to win a hackathon and still having fun while doing it.
So over to next part – the business idea. Now that you’ve got a solid team, it’s time to develop a winning idea and strategy. It’s good to be thinking a lot about this part as well before the hackathon, so you really need to pinpoint the things to make it a MVP that attracts users and still get operational as quickly as possible. Remember that for the LAUNCH Hackathon (and many others), you can not arrive with pre-written code or any projects you have started building. You can have the idea and strategy, but the MVP project must be built during the event.
Planning your idea
Because you only have 48 hours during the hackathon, you need to spend your time wisely. One guy that knows how to use their time effectively during a hackathon is last years runner-up Ian Webster (InterviewClub) who shared some hacks on his blog after last years LAUNCH to make use of for a successful hackathon.
First up is Code Hacking. The 48 hours will go quicker than you think so avoid backend work. The goal is to get the product to work by all means. Don’t put too much focus on the things that people don’t see. What people do see is your landing page so make it pretty by finding a suitable template. Giving a good first impression is essential. Be sure to make a division of labour so people don’t end up doing the same thing twice. Less is more, and don’t stay up for 48 hours straight. Instead stay healthy and clear-minded to develop the MVP.
Finally, practice pitching early, and start to evaluate your idea with people outside of your team (who are probably biased by this time because of all the fun you had). Feedback from a sponsor or someone else could pay off big and really make a difference for your product. Practice, practice, practice when it comes to your pitch. Nail the presentation, the order, what you’re going to say and what you are going to show. This needs to be slick.
After a hectic 48 hours, on Sunday 1PM, all teams have to finish their code for the first review by the judges. The first review is by two judges who consider the production/design and the technical aspect of the product or service. This is based on the team leaders pitch, questions answered and their notes. The team will then be given a score based on multiple criterias such as technical achievement, product, vision and design. Have these in mind when evaluating your idea before the event.
The top 15 teams will then get to present on stage for 90 seconds, answer one question, and then move on. There will an impressive jury together with the founder Jason Calacanis to determine the top 5 that will get the opportunity to present on the main stage at the LAUNCH Festival on March the 4th, in front of an audience of thousands of folks, and for the chance to win $250,000 investment.
So get out there, gather a team and sign-up!
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