July 1, 2022

How To Win Hackathons?


People tend to say that the most important thing is to try. However, we assume that if you're reading this article, you don't just want to try; you want to win.

To win hackathons, you need to prep. It's best to find and leverage tools that double your coding speed. Most importantly, you should master every hackathon's psychological component that very few people know about.

If you missed our article on how to prepare for hackathon, we strongly suggest you read it first.

Let's say you already prepared and collected all the info on the sponsors and the judges; you somewhat know what makes them tick. Now it's time to get back to the most basic hackathon fact: winners get decided by the judges!

Let that sink in. It means you have one single point of failure (or success).

Hackathon Judges

Judges decide the winners, but they are not perfect. They have their strengths, weaknesses, and biases.

Hackathon judges complicate the entire product-market fit in a non-obvious way. They are introducing a third component between your product and your potential customer. If you don't consider judges as a crucial part of the equation, your chances of winning will decrease.

You're not just trying to get a good product-market fit. Instead, you must find a product-judges-market fit.

For example, if the judges are vegetarians, do you think they will ever vote for a burger delivery app? Even if it's a good match for many fast-food restaurants. Most likely, they will not. Or the score you get will be just so slightly lower. But, as in any other competition, you know that every last inch and millisecond counts. Does this make them evil and corrupt? Not really. It makes them human. And in all likelihood, they aren't even consciously doing it.

Whatever the underlying reason is, you should not care. It is entirely unavoidable, and it's something that every hackathon has. You should only care about updating your strategy around these psychological limitations so you can win a hackathon.

Of course, this advice is useless if you haven't prepared and don't know anything about the judges. That is why you should follow the steps outlined in how to prepare for hackathon article.

Public Hackathon Criteria

Judges are trying to follow the hackathon criteria set out by the organizer to the best of their ability. So having those criteria in the back of your mind is a must.

Before you put a single line of code and try to work out your idea in more detail, ask yourself, how does this match the hackathon criterion? How many "points" could this idea get?

Ways To Win Hackathon

Secret Hackathon Criteria

The secret to winning a hackathon is simple: preparation. Hackathons are endurance events, and the more prepared you are, the better your chances of winning. Make sure you know what the challenge is, come up with a game plan, and have all the tools you need ready to go. And most importantly, don't give up!

When it comes to preparing for a hackathon, there are a few key things you need to do:

  • Know the challenge. This may seem obvious, but it's important to have a clear understanding of what the challenge is and what you're expected to do. Read the instructions carefully and make sure you understand everything before you start.
  • Come up with a game plan. Once you know the challenge, it's time to come up with a plan of attack. Figure out what you need to do and how you're going to do it. Make sure you have all the tools and resources you need before you start.
  • Don't give up. Hackathons are endurance events, so it's important to pace yourself and not get discouraged if things don't go as planned. Take breaks when you need to, but don't give up!

Follow these simple tips and you'll be well on your way to winning your next hackathon. Good luck!

Hackathon Time Component

The most scarce resource in a hackathon is time. Your best chance of winning a hackathon is by getting yourself as much extra time as possible. Let's say everyone has 36h. You thoroughly prepared yourself and gained 100h of extra thinking time. Then your competitors barely stands a chance.

Best Idea Criterion

If you want to come up with some great ideas for your hackathon project, here are a few tips.

  1. Brainstorm: Come up with a list of ideas, even if they seem crazy at first. The more ideas you have, the better your chances of coming up with a great one.
  2. Narrow Down: Once you have a list of ideas, start narrowing them down. You don't want to have too many options, or you'll never be able to make a decision.
  3. Research: Look up your options and see what others have to say about them. You might find that some of your original ideas aren't so great after all.
  4. Choose The Best Option: After you've done your research, it's time to choose the best option. Go with your gut and choose the one that feels right for you.

How Hard Is To Win A Hackathon?

If your strategy is the same as everyone else's, winning a hackathon is very hard. But if you extend your thinking time through preparation, you can succeed in almost all criteria. Because every criterion is linked to time.

But you still have a problem. Every strategy mentioned here focuses on extending your time before the hackathon starts. But what about extending your time during the hackathon?

To be more precise, you're not really extending time. But if you can do things faster, it has the same effect.

The Most Developed Solution Criterion

The biggest time-consuming activity in a hackathon is code writing. And every solution consists of some visible part (frontend) and the database part (backend). So coding is unavoidable. However, what if you could write the code twice as fast? It would be like everyone else has 36h, and you have a 72h hackathon. It would be yet another advantage on top of all other benefits.

At this point, we can conclude you would be pretty much unstoppable. But how is coding twice as fast even possible? 

If you only have to code half the app and still get the same result, you just achieved 2x speedup. And the secret is not having to code the backend. Because there are production-level tools that allow you to develop the entire backend in minutes which would otherwise take hours.

One such tool is 8base which you can use to create database tables in just a few clicks. And it automatically sets up all the endpoints for you. It is published and ready to go in minutes.

All that's left for you to do for the rest of the hackathon is to build pretty interfaces and leave the hackathon judges in awe.

Can You Win A Hackathon?

If you just randomly show up on a hackathon, it is extremely unlikely you'll win. But follow the steps clearly outlined in this article (preparation, sponsors, judges, 2x code speed). Your odds will dramatically improve.

In fact, if you follow all the steps, with all the advantages stacking upon each other, it is hard to imagine a hackathon where you cannot win.

Ready to try 8base?

We're excited about helping you achieve amazing results.