Tips on how to Win an Online Hackathon on Devpost

Below I have written down some tips based on my experiences that will help you win your next online Devpost hackathon.

Photo of my Devpost portfolio

I have taken part in about 17 online hackathons and won 4 of them on Devpost. This article discusses what I’ve learned.

My Devpost portfolio: https://devpost.com/harrybanda7

In case anyone reading this doesn't know what a hackathon is, It’s an event where you build a software project in a short time span (usually 1–2 days). Online hackathons on the other hand can go on for as long as 2 months. Devpost is a platform that helps developers participate in online and in-person hackathons.

TIP #1: Read the hackathon rules

A hackathon page on Devpost always has a “Rules” section that contains information on eligibility and requirements. You need to read that to make sure you and your team are eligible to take part in the hackathon.

TIP #2: Take time to read the requirements

After reading the rules and confirming eligibility, You should now take time to read the hackathon requirements. On the “Overview” tab of a hackathon page, you will find “Requirements” and “Judging criteria” sections. Those sections are very important, they provide information on what kind of project the hackathon judges expect you to build and what technologies you must use to build the project. Companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft host hackathons on Devpost, and they usually require developers to build software with a specific set of technologies.

TIP #3: Take time to plan your idea

Unlike the 24-hour and 48-hour in-person hackathons, online hackathons give you more time to build your projects. With all that time the judges expect to see fully functional and well-built submissions. To have a great submission you need to take time to brainstorm and improve your ideas.

“Constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself” ― Elon Musk

My submission that won first place in the 2020 Facebook AR hackathon was initially just a simple game to move a 3D character left, right, and forward. But after putting more thought into it, I decided it would be better for it to be some sort of educational game for a better chance of winning the hackathon. Eventually, I came to the conclusion of creating an educational game that helps people learn about the basic concepts of programming.

Rabbit Coder AR Game

TIP #4: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit

Starting a submission early is a good way to make sure that your project meets the requirements. There’s nothing worse than getting to the deadline, only to realize that you’re missing a key component. And if the hackathon requires you to submit a video don’t wait until the last minute to record and upload the video. Due to file size, format, and your Internet connection, uploading a video to YouTube can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

TIP #5: Presentation is very important

A great presentation is key to winning a hackathon. You might have a really good project but fail to get the message out to the judges. You need to take time to create a good presentation that describes your solution very well, keep it simple, highlight the key features and use diagrams. Explain what problem your solution is trying to solve. Explain which of the required technologies were used and how you integrated them in your solution.

Final Thoughts

Yes, it’s nice to win, but I believe the most important thing about hackathons is learning new things and improving your skills as a developer. After completing a submission you need to ask yourself whether you are proud of what you’ve built. The sense of accomplishment and the knowledge gained are more important than winning. I say this because I have taken part in over 17 hackathons and from those hackathons, I have learned how to use many technologies and improved my software development skills.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find this information useful. 😁

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