How to Hack a Hackathon: Saturday

A hackathon expert’s advice on how to make the most of your 48-hour experience. 


Loring is a regular participant at UP Singapore hackathons. Recently, he took part in the GeoHackathon 2014, where his team, Team CheapBeerSG (pictured below), won the Second Prize and the Best Design Prize. In this series of articles, Loring shares some tips and tricks on how to hack a hackathon.

Continued from our previous post.

4. Build a Demo, Not a Product

Build a demo centered around your user journey. Do not try to build the whole product. (You don’t have enough time.)

What features do you include? What features do you leave out? Put them to the test by saying the following out loud: “For the purposes of this demonstration, we only need to build . . .” You’ll likely feel uncomfortable or even guilty when you say it out loud. Deep in your heart, you know that most of the features you want to build will not be on that list.

5. Revise Your User Journey

You just had a heart-to-heart with reality, and came to terms with the fact that your brilliant solution is actually more simple than you had originally thought. (And that’s great news!) So revise your user journey accordingly.

6. If You Can’t Make It, Fake It

Even the most talented and dedicated team can only build so much over a single weekend. And some tasks consume a lot of time while delivering very little value. In such cases, fake it.

There’s a fine line between making a demo and faking a demo. And you wouldn’t want to do anything dishonest or unethical. (We’re hackers after all!)

Here’s a simple test: Is the feature or data set non-critical — i.e. merely used to showcase your core problem-solving technology? Is it possible (with enough time and resources) to create the feature or data set? If you answer “yes” to both questions, then go ahead and fake it.

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