Hackathons aren’t about the hacks.

Hackathons are about what you learn, not what you build.


Hackers are quick to call out redundancy. We are trained to.

That said, seeing the same hacks every weekend at hackathons doesn’t bother me and it shouldn’t bother you either.

Many of the apps you see over and over again are simply what anyone would build at the beginning of their journey to becoming a great hacker.

Hackathons are becoming the goto place to learn how to code.

At MHacks, we incentivize top hackers to join forces with newer hackers.

Building a real app with a team changes the way you think about coding.

The best part: it’s fun.

Even if an idea has been built before, it’s all about the execution — most software in the world is broken and could be done 10x better.

Instead of putting a team down for building something you’ve seen before, try introducing them to people solving similar problems so they can share what they’ve learned.

On top of that, the best ideas don’t form in isolation — multiple teams working on the same idea is often more validation that it’s a good idea.

Themed Hackathons

I’m still not sold on themed hackathons — in my experience, they tend to restrict creativity.

Teams rarely ever finish with the same idea they show up with. At themed hackathons, you have much less room to pivot unless the theme itself opens a broad range of possibilities.

Instead of forcing hackers to work on specific problems, integrate a targeted prize or workshop into an existing hackathon — people are always going to be more passionate about their own ideas.

If you’re going to do a themed hackathon, choose a broad theme — HackDuke’s “Code for Good” theme works well because people learn not only about coding but also where they can apply those skills.

I’m also skeptical of hackathons as a vehicle to solve issues as the people running these hackathons tend to fundamentally misunderstand that hackathons are just the start. It’s very unlikely you’ll get it right in a weekend — startups and solutions to real world problems often take months, if not years to build.

That said, we should try everything and certain themed hackathons have been super effective.

The possibilities are endless

You can still build something epic or world-changing in a weekend.

Vulse replaces all the input devices you would normally use with an electric guitar with simple touch inputs on an iPhone.

It was built in a weekend at the first MHacks.

There’s a magic at hackathons — an energy that makes anything possible.

I’ve seen people build, in a weekend, what it would take an entire startup or large team at a company months to build.

That said, the most legit hackers I know aren’t waiting for a hackathon to build their most epic hacks.