Hack Your Way Through Hackathons

Team Mimr won the DJI API prize at the DeveloperWeek Hackathon 2016 held in SF from 13–14 Feb! Their mobile app helps film-makers and enthusiasts achieve perfect framing by giving the Osmo a wireless intuitive point and shoot experience.
(From left to right) Haritha Ramesh, Chai Jia Xun, Jonathan Lim, Jonathan Tan

The DeveloperWeek Hackathon in SF was one that posed many challenges to answer to. While our team did not necessarily aim to build on a startup idea based on the APIs available, we came prepared with an idea to tackle DJI’s challenge: to create a cool application with their mobile SDKs for the Osmo handheld camera.

Our product at work

Since only half the team had experience with Android application development and there were early issues with the SDK, we decided to hedge our risk by developing another idea that we came up with later on the first day. However, the idea was only fully developed at midnight, so coding started too late and we failed to execute on it. Meanwhile, although it was difficult for Jia Xun to get the Osmo connection working because of some connectivity issues and some problems we encountered with their SDK, it led to us closely interacting with the sponsor’s lead mobile developer, turning the situation to our favor.

  1. Entering the market

Choose the challenge category wisely. The low hanging fruits are packed with contenders, avoid meaningless competition. Go for something you have expertise in. We were lucky to have prior understanding of the sponsor’s product as well as some knowledge on mobile programming. Hardware/mobile challenges are also naturally less popular simply because of added complexities.

2. Growth Strategy

Focus on one or two core use cases for each challenge, rather than attempting to build a complete suite of solutions. It is better to go deep than broad.

3. The Hustle

Develop a relationship with sponsors for visibility and mindshare, as well as seek feedback from them on your product. Usually the developers you speak to have insider information on the SDK, and they will also remember you if you keep bugging them with your (or their) bugs. Also, speak to and learn from other teams participating, make some friends!

4. Showtime

The pitch should inform the sponsors of your product as well as how it fits into their ecosystem and drives value FOR them. Remember it’s about them, not you.

We had fun at the hackathon, and we feel that anyone can glean many insights about entrepreneurship simply by actively thinking about the business and product aspects involved with the tools and techniques we’ve learnt in the classroom!

Written and compiled by Team Mimr:

Jonathan Lim Siu Chi | Web Developer @UpGuard

Jonathan Tan Jye How| Forward Deployed Engineer Intern @UpGuard

Haritha Ramesh | Software Engineering Intern @UpGuard

Chai Jia Xun | Software Engineering Intern @UpGuard

NUS Entrepreneurs’ Association (NUSEA) is a group of aspiring entrepreneurs from National University of Singapore based in Silicon Valley for a year as part of the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme. This Medium is a platform for students to share their experiences and insights on entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem in the Valley.

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