Also posted on Medium.
On July 15, 2017, I joined the UnionBank’s UHack & Play Hackathon with the theme Banking Innovations. held at the Trade Hall at SM City Cebu, Philippines to alleviate my boredom because of the blackout at Tacloban City, Philippines due to the series of earthquakes that hit the city.
We built UHomes during the Hackathon. It’s a peer-to-peer real estate buy & sell platform. We didn’t win but we had a blast trying to stay awake to finish the app. ðŸ˜‚ ðŸ˜‚
Here are a few tips that might help when you join a hackathon.
If you think you can win with pure coding skills, you’re gravely mistaken.
To win a hackathon, you need a SOLID idea. That’s in all caps and in bold for emphasis. It doesn’t matter if you think you can’t finish implementing it. You can just make it static as long as you can show them how it would look like if you actually implemented it.
The judges there know their shit. So your value proposition better be great and you have to make sure you really have a competitive advantage over the competition. What makes your app a cut above the rest? That’s what you try and figure out.
To develop an idea, you need to start with a problem. It would be nice to solve a problem that has no good solution yet. If you decided to solve a problem with existing solutions, make sure what you’re building is actually better than their solution.
When we were told to use the UnionBank API, our minds were immediately framed to build around the API when we should have built our idea by using the API.
Make sure you know your competitor’s business models. Know what makes them tick. Know what makes them different. This is so you know your business model is actually better than theirs and if not, you can either improve it, or drop the idea and find another one.
We were in serious lack of people and skill variety. We were all developers with roughly the same skill sets and we didn’t have enough people working on other crucial stuff like the presentation and the pitch. We were multi-tasking like hell, which didn’t really help our case.
This was seriously a problem. Our presentation looked horrible. We didn’t have someone working solely on the logo, on the mockups, etc. We were in great need of a designer and we didn’t have one.
We didn’t have a domain expert with usâ€Š–â€Šin this case, an expert in banking. But it doesn’t have to be banking. Having a business-savvy person on your team will save you from many revisions to your idea from the get-go.
The pitch isn’t everything, but a great pitch will get people to listen to what you have to say and what value your product can give.
Make your presentation look great. If it looks horrible, it would communicate to people that your work is sloppy and you’re not prepared enough. Also, people won’t focus on your presentation if it doesn’t look pleasing.
Make a video if you can. It’s easier for people to see it in action than to just hear about the features of your product.
There you have it! I hope you learned something! Hackathons are FUN and you should definitely try them out! ðŸ˜„
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