StartupBus 2022 happens in less than a week! For the benefit of the people who’ll be participating in this mobile hackathon — as well as those who are still thinking about signing up (it’s not too late!), here are some protips that you might find handy.
Nick Singh, a developer on Facebook’s Growth team, author of Ace the Data Science Interview and Ace the Data Job Hunt, and creator of a monthly tech career newsletter, recently wrote a decent-size guide on winning hackathons — Win Hackathons in 2022: A Step-by-Step Guide — and it’s good.
If you read only one guide for winning hackathons, read this one. Among his tips:
- The demo should be the center of your project. Your pitch should revolve around the demo, and the demo should be captivating.
- Don’t do “design by committee.” As Nick puts it: “You want to tackle an idea when—and only when—at least one person is a true believer. Going with everybody’s second favorite idea is disheartening and ultimately dangerous.”
- Stick with tools you know well and can rely on. You’re under a lot of time pressure on StartupBus, and there are a number of “unknown unknowns” you’ll have to contend with. These challenges will be much worse if you’re using StartupBus as an opportunity to try out new tools — you’ll be climbing up a learning curve while trying to get an application running under tricky conditions.
- Ship the MVP. “MVP” in this case means “Minimum Viable Product,” a product that does just enough for customers to be willing to pay for it. Stick to the main functionality, avoid adding unnecessary features, run it locally on your computer if you can, skip or use smiulate login if you can do that, and so on.
StartupBus Florida will provide some utilities and other goodies for anyone who wants to work on a Web 3.0 project. I personally think that Web 3.0 is still a lot of snake oil and NFTs are basically FourSquare mayorships for JPEGs, but others on the team think that it’s the hottest thing of the moment, and I’m here to support StartupBus projects. I leave it to the buspreneurs and readers to make their own call.
With that in mind, the YouTube channel Dapp University has a video covering strategies for getting the most out of a Web 3.0 hackathon, a good number of which are applicable to hackathons in general.
Need a “how to win a hackathon” video that’s a little less crypto-bro-y? Maria Sikovets’ video is for you.
Apptension, a software development consultancy based in Poland, has a 12-step recipe for winning hackathons, both virtual and in-person.
Among their tips:
- Map out your project. “Before you start coding, gather your team and walk them through the product you’re making so that everyone gets it 100%.”
- Think like a judge. Remember, the winner is determined by a panel of judges, who”ll judge startups based on the pitches.
- Get some sleep. Sleep deprivation ruins your judgement, and a lot of hackathon activity is making judgement calls.
I was a buspreneur on StartupBus Florida 2019, and our team made it all the way to the finals and was the first runner-up. We didn’t come in first place, but we won in different ways. For me, doing well in StartupBus gave me a great resume item that most people didn’t have, and that helped me land my last two jobs.
There are all sorts of ways to win StartupBus, even if you don’t come in first place, and even if you don’t make it to the finals or even the seminfinals. This article points out different ways of viewing success at StatupBus. Check it out!
Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast
Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast sent a reporter to join the New York City StartupBus for the 2017 event, and the result was a five-part series that tells the story of the buspreneurs on that bus.
Before going on StartupBus 2019, I listened to this podcast in its entirety — twice — to get a better feel for what the experience would be like and to try to glean insights into what would give me and my team better odds of winning.
I wrote a five-part series called Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast, where I share notes on every episode of the podcast series. Check it out, and learn!