The Best Hackathon I have ever attended.

Hatch London Invitation

Do you have your favourite hackathon? Recently I just attended one.

Last month, I received an invitation to a hackathon Hatch London hosted by SheCanCode, at that moment I didn’t expect too much and thought it just another hackathon. What could this one be different from the other ones I have attended before?

But surprisingly, it was an unbelievably amazing experience.
The banner of Hatch London (source: hatch London Facebook fan page)

Team Up and Scrum!

After registering the hackathon, I received a delicate digital e-card congratulated me that my registration succeeded. Also, I was asked to join the Slack channel where I was assigned to a team and a specific topic to work on.

Our topic was changing the world by solving a problem relating to war/ the refugee crisis.

“Wait, what ?!”

Usually, the hackers join a hackathon as a group before they register the application or form a group with the other hackers at the venue. Being assigned to a group is quite a rare case, not even to mention the assigned subject.

When the mentors showed up and in the slack channel and kindly led us to discuss the topic, I could feel that this hackathon was different, they took it really seriously.

On the first day, I met my dream teammates at the venue. We only introduced ourselves for a few minutes before devoting to actual work. By implementing the scrum methodology, we started with the project concept idea then the persona and the possible solution right away.

Every group representatives were asked to gather and review the developing progress. It was not an actual serious meeting, just for checking every team were on the right track of a project developing process.

“This is insane. This is not the hackathons I am familiar with.” I thought.

We followed the sprints on the Trello provided by the scrum master, from prototyping, testing to the business model and growth hacking. With the help from the mentors and the scrum master, we were able to come out our solution and started to work on the prototype and the business model in the afternoon.

At that moment I realised that this hackathon was way more than another hackathon.

It was not merely a hackathon but a two-day project development workshop in order to bring our idea come to live practically and effectively.

This is crazy awesome!!

Mentors, lots of mentors.

During the hackathon, the last thing we need to worry is to find someone to ask for help.

It’s not unusual to be asked “Is everything alright?” or “Do you need any help?” by the mentors. There were about twenty mentors stayed in the venue and always ready to assist us. They came from the various backgrounds as well, they were engineers, developers, entrepreneurs and consultants. Which means we had someone to ask for help when we encountered any technical issues, but also there were mentors could provide the business aspect ideas.

During the lunch and dinner break, I had the chance to talk to the mentors and the guest speakers and network with them. They came from Google Deep Learning, Vodafone, JP Morgan and so on. They were really kind and willing to discuss more on our project which was really helpful.

This was amazing and at that time I knew why it was called Hatch London.

There were also three workshops, from beginner-friendly one to hardcore one. (Source: HatchLondon)

The Second Day

We came back to the venue on the second day, the fact that my teammates still showed up made my day. Because I was quite worried I would be the only one to show up in the second day. It happened all the time and not really unusual. I noticed that the turn-up rate was quite high, sometimes it’s quite hard to get people back to the hackathon after they go home.

Spend the last hour to have a pitch practice with our genius mentor, we were good and ready to go. I would say thanks to the mocking pitch, our team was in a good position on the stage and deliver an impactful pitch in three minutes.We were satisfied with the solution, prototype and the pitch we produced within the 24 hours

It seemed like the judges thought so too.

We got the third prize gloriously among 10 more amazing and creative teams!!!

“No way!!!!!!” I shouted in my mind when team 6 was announced by the host.

After receiving the prize I still couldn’t believe it, because there were some projects I expected to get a prize. But still, I didn’t mind to have the honour at all.

RunnersUP Got!!! (Source: SheCanCode)

Awesome Experience

It was a really fantastic experience during the two days. We went through a whole process from brainstorming, prototyping to pitching, which gave me the idea what’s a project development look like. Every stage we knew what we needed to do, when to stop and what to do next, just like working on a real-life project in the industry.

Although we couldn’t produce a complex fantastic production, what I have learned from the hackathon benefits in any project I am going to work on. I especially appreciated all the mentors in the venues, without them we couldn’t produce such a good result.

It would be really great if a hackathon could be hosted like this with helpful mentors and practical guidance. Most of the hackathons I attended were not really beginner-friendly, I didn’t know what to do and who to talk to when I was a non-coder. Mentors and assigned team addressed this issues and it worked really well.

The diversity of Hatch London also led a team to build a project in wide aspects instead of focusing on the technical domain only, which made the project more feasible and practical.After all, to build a proper business you can’t just have people who know programming.

To put it shortly, Hatch London was the best hackathon I have ever attended. Can’t believe this was the first hackathon SheCanCode hosted.