I can think of lots of reasons to go to a Hackathon:
- to experience the Startup-lifecycle in a compressed time frame.
- to see new technologies in use.
- to brainstorm with other entrepreneurial technologists.
- to have closer contact with business ("idea") people.
- to push your code-sprinting capabilities to the limit.
- to be in an environment where people passionately pursue their values.
But my colleague, Troy Miles, points out here that he likes Hackathons because they put the fun back into development. That's what he does daily. What a wonderful reason! Because technology is fun! And working really, really hard to achieve a lot in a short period of time is one of the most fun things imaginable.
If you do decide to do a Hackathon this year, and I hope you do, Troy has some advice on preparation; but so do I!
First of all, fellow technologists, it's presentation, presentation, presentation.
If you don't go a good "firepitch", you won't get a good team.
If you don't present well to the judges, you won't even get consideration for your work!!!
If you're a technologist, you need to focus on your presentation skills more than anything else.
And I have a very practical tip. First off, you need to hone your "elevator pitch." This is true for startups in general, but also very true for Hackathons. You have, typically, 60 seconds to pitch your idea. How do you prepare for this?
First, acquaint yourself with speaking at different speeds. Court reporters typically train at around 200 to 225 words per minute, which can be viewed on youtube here.
So, you can probably fit in somewhere around 200 to 250 words into your minute presentation. Then write it and calculate your words!
Second, get your stopwatch and time yourself. And don't say "uh." There isn't time for it & it won't do you any good.
The same principle applies to whatever time is allowed for your final presentation.