Tis the hackathon season, and as we gear up for a few action-packed days, we’re bringing you a comprehensive list of resources, tips, and hackathon hacks!
First off, do your research on the hackathon theme in advance so you’re well prepared. Brainstorm a list of ideas/needs that can work with the themes. Think through what’s realistically possible plus what you can get funding for, from a longer term perspective too.
Think about where to find teammates. Go to Discord chats, X, and Telegram. Sort through intros and talk with people.
During the Hackathon:
Go for simplicity over complexity. Don’t try to be overly ambitious and pack a million features into what you’re building. You want to think through a good MVP with a carefully laid out value proposition. It can be tempting to add a lot of features and tools, but remember the timeframe you’re working with, and be very pragmatic as you think about your end goal.
Use the Pomodoro technique: break up tasks into smaller chunks and be organized about task completion and what’s needed to finish up. Make sure you account for the time you’ll need to work on your presentation/deck too.
Make sure you’re taking breaks, staying hydrated, and having balanced meals. While hackathons are intense, they shouldn’t be at the cost of your health.
Having a project leader. Too many cooks spoil the broth. You need a team leader who will keep everyone accountable, or who can jump in when needed to assist. Make sure to speak up if you feel everyone’s trying to tiptoe around what needs to be said/done. You’re all a team, and you’re in it together. Good projects require leadership and organization that brings good execution.
Sponsors and partner prizes often give a good indication of what judges might be looking for. There might be extra kudos for using their tools or APIs in your project. This could boost your chances of winning specific partner awards. Of course, it has to make sense in the project, so don’t try to force usage if it doesn’t fit.
Sponsors have a clear idea of what they’re looking for. Their early feedback can provide valuable direction. Discuss your project idea with sponsors as early as you can. Feedback of this sort can save you and your team effort and time.
Have a well-rounded team. It’s not just about the best developers or engineers. A big chunk of decision making is based on the pitch, so as you think about the perfect team, make sure to think of who will work on the presentation, who will work on the pitch, and who can work on design elements.
Talk to other hackathon participants too. Some of the best collaborations can start from casual chats!
If you’re feeling anxious, try deep breathing. Use apps like Oak or Calm and try the deep breathing option there if you’re feeling nervous before pitching. Remember practice makes perfect!
Make sure you bring hydrating eye drops and laptop stands to make the hackathon days more bearable.
Always have a backup of your work. Technical glitches can be unexpected, and you don’t want to deal with a nightmare from lost work.
If you’re working with smart contracts, make sure you use tools (such as Slither or MythX) to check for vulnerabilities.
If you’re building a dApp think about interoperability and how it’ll interact with other web3 applications and ecosystems. Utilizing cross chain solutions can be valuable.
Make sure you test out your smart contracts on testnets before you deploy to mainnet.
Getting feedback from the community can be really useful here. Make sure to make the most of X and Discord to get feedback.
Remember practice makes perfect, and you’ve put in the work. Believe in your project and your team.
And while winning is great, the real value of a hackathon lies in the experience, the connections you make, and the skills you develop.
Here are some more resources worth checking out:
Mashal Waqar is Head of Partnerships & Growth at Bankless Publishing. She went from building in media and D2C to DAOing in web3 and exploring whatever project inspires her intellectually. Her recent projects include researching protocols and web3 grants programs.
trewkat is a writer, editor, and designer at BanklessDAO. She’s interested in learning about applications for blockchain and NFTs, with a particular focus on how best to communicate this knowledge to others.
Chameleon is a designer and creator in the web3 space.
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