How to Hack a Hackathon: Sunday + A Bonus Tip

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.

7. Pitch Your User Journey

Your pitch presentation should do one thing, and one thing only — tell a great story using your demo. Your user journey is your script. It already contains everything for a great plot: an endearing protagonist, a relatable problem, a climax, and (of course) a compelling resolution. You demo is your live enactment.

Do not create a powerpoint presentation. Do not introduce yourself and your team — until the end. Do not talk about the creative / building process.

If you cannot tell a story with your user journey and demo, then it means one of two things: either you are not tackling a real problem, or you have not built a demonstration of the solution.

8. Name Drop Tech

Name drop tech in order to show us your solution is not all smoke and mirrors. Include:

- programming languages

- platforms

- APIs

- open source resources

- white label resources

- templates / themes

- data sets

- data sources

- data scraping tools

9. Identify Many Uses Cases

You’ve heard the saying, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Time to put that saying into practice.

No matter what your solution, it can be applied to more than one problem. Think creatively about all the ways your new technology could be applied. Then take the top three examples, and craft mini (one sentence) user journeys around them. As you conclude your presentation, throw them against the wall of hackathon judges and audience — and hope your expansive and creative applications stick.


10. Bring Your Own Designer

The art of persuasion employs many rhetological fallacies. (See a full list at Many are convincing, some are mildly ethical.

My personal favourite is the Design Fallacy — implying that because something is well designed or beautifully visualized, then it is more true.

Most people fall for this one, so do yourself a big favor and bring your own designer.

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