How to maximize your chances at winning a software hackathon

And why you should try

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  1. Adapt to performing within a team(which can also be fun if you participate with the right people)
  2. And get meaningful awards(cash, internships, etc.) and recognition(stuff to put on your resume and/or LinkedIn profile).
A picture of a mannequin sitting on a sofa, with 4 other mannequins behind her. The first mannequin is holding the head of mickey mouse.

1. The team:

What you can’t change before a Hackathon are your skills.

Ideally, what you can’t do by yourself, you recruit other people for.

Let’s take an example of a website project. If you’re good at writing Backend APIs, then get a guy for the Frontend. A guy for the database. Another guy for Machine Learning or Blockchain or whatever is needed.

Look for people who:

  1. Have good communication skills
  2. Are willing to put in the same amount of effort and time as you
  3. Have varied tech skills(and/or non-tech skills too)

2. Brainstorming: The USP

For most hackathons, there are usually a few themes given around which you need to think of an idea.

3. Time to code: MVP

No, not “Most Valuable Player”. MVP stands for “Minimum Viable Product”.

4. The presentation

This is what I’d consider contributes to 60% of the result. A mediocre prototype won’t make you lose, but a mediocre presentation definitely will.

5. Expect the worst: Murphy’s law

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”

If you’re using a new library or framework or language, expect things to not work. And expect to find out about this issue at the very last moment.

What can I do to maximize the chances of my team winning?

Your approach will have to adapt to the contest’s rules; You’ll have to think about exactly what the judges are looking for. It takes a bit of work, but it always helps to remind yourself of why you want to win. Could be the award, could be your competitive spirit.

Extra: Failing

What if you do everything and lose anyway?

There is no point in participating if you don’t want to win


It’s alright to lose if you did your best.

You should definitely participate in hackathons just for the experience. But the best experiences are the ones where you give it your all.



I like food, code, and reading random Wikipedia articles

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