Preparation is the key to success at hackathons. With the right strategy and preparation, your team can win any hackathon. Here are 5 things you can do, before the hackathon to stay ahead of the competition:
1) Get the right people onboard
Get started by forming the right team. Attract the right talent to your team with a good pitch. State clearly the product you plan to build and the problem it solves. While looking for teammates, mention the skills and domain knowledge that you seek. Keep a written description of your pitch. Read and practice your pitch so that it is easy to present it. Once you form the team, assign roles and responsibilities according to their skill set.
2) Do extensive research
Do your homework before the hackathon. Research your audience. Get to know your judges and sponsors. Study the APIs you will be working on. Check out existing open source libraries, packages, and examples that can help you in building a prototype. You can find packages for languages like Python and Django. This will help save a lot of time during the hackathon.
3) Do a mock hackathon
Do a mock run with your team a week before the hackathon when possible. Find solutions to the problems you face. Use the mock sprint to finalize communication channels and strategy for working as team.
4) Build templates
If you are allowed to use pre-made wireframes, building them in advance. Use the time before the hackathon to build templates, common reusable components such as login, etc. These templates will help build the prototype quickly.
If the hackathon theme is available in advance, brainstorm and generate ideas to build your product. Come up with as many solutions as possible. Think through the ideas, and finalize the ones that can be implemented in a short span of time. This will help in coming up with a clear product vision for the hackathon.
With these simple tips, you can stay one step ahead of your competition even before the hackathon starts.