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Do you want to participate in a hackathon but don't know the best way to prepare? No worries, We've got you covered.
Best way to prepare for a hackathon is to get a good night's sleep. Nothing beats that! Then bring the essentials: laptop and charger, phone and charger, extension cord, plus an extra piece of warm clothing (even in summertime).
If you've never participated in a hackathon, we suggest you first read the hackathon essentials article. It describes in detail what this competition event looks like and what you can expect.
You don't need much equipment, but each of these things is essential. The laptop, phone, and chargers are pretty obvious, so there is no need to explain them.
The extension cord is something almost no one brings to the hackathon. But it is truly a life-saver and can make your life much easier. It also allows you to find an excellent hacking spot that's usually not taken because others didn't bring an extension cord.
An extra piece of warm clothing helps you keep the focus on the project instead of feeling cold. Because you are sitting and not moving and simply don't generate much heat yourself. On top of that, the air conditioning might be blasting at full power during the summer.
And while others are thinking about how cold they are, you are getting ahead because you came prepared.
Equipment is not everything. Think ahead about possible hackathon themes. Who are the judges? Who are the companies sponsoring the event? You can prime your mind to anticipate potential products and solutions you'll be developing.
Google each of the sponsor companies and get familiar with their business. If they are sponsoring the event, rest assured they want to get something out of it.
What is their pain point? What products do they already have? What are they trying to do?
Reading their mission statement gives you a rough idea of where they want to go. Then look at the sponsor's current products and services, and you will see where they are now.
Now, what is the gap? What is your best guess on how this hackathon will fill this gap? You can learn a lot by studying all the sponsors. Sometimes you can even roughly guess what the hackathon's theme will be.
This is actual preparation! And by the time the hackathon starts, you will be miles ahead of your competition. You will have many ideas and research data on similar products and potential solutions.
The judges contain additional information you can use to determine which direction the hackathon will go.
Question to ask yourself:
All this research is pure gold in terms of hackathon preparation. And we can almost guarantee that no one is preparing as thoroughly as you are (if you follow the tips from this article).
Remember, your most significant constraint in a hackathon is time. And with all this research, you're actually buying time. Other teams will simply not be able to catch up with you.
Hackathon is a competition. And in any competition, you need an edge. Think: how can you get one step ahead of everyone else? Before the hackathon even begins. For example, using better tools than anyone else to cut coding time.
On top of doing the best research beforehand, you don't need to stop there. You can push further and create an even more significant advantage between yourself and other teams in the hackathon.
Since you are prepared, you know every solution will be some kind of app. And what does the app consist of? Frontend part (web or mobile app) and backend part (database/server).
You also know that coding takes up the most significant chunk of time. And it's the slowest thing to do. So it makes sense to make this part faster. So how about twice as fast?
How about creating an entire backend in 10-20 minutes by only defining database tables? And you're done. You have a production-ready server up and going. And all the remaining time you can use to develop the frontend part of your solution.
How is this possible?
Since you did your research, you found that 8base can do exactly that with just a couple of clicks; a live, scalable backend application that is ready to go.
Having that advantage on your side, on top of all others, is getting really hard to beat. And the hackathon hasn't even begun. A hackathon is like a Rocky boxing match: the most essential part is preparation. And the actual match is just playing out the moves.
In conclusion, here are the things you need:
If you do all of this, you will be prepared. And being prepared is half the battle.
To learn the other half, check out how to win hackathons article and excel at your next competition.