Whether you’re new to the hackathon world or you’re a seasoned coder, having a strong team can make or break the entire experience.
And that’s not only if you want to win the prize—even if you have no intention of competing for first place, a weak team can make the hackathon experience hell from start to finish.
Because hackathons can be extremely stressful. Teams come together and work tirelessly over a few days or a weekend, to build a viable product, often around the clock, with not much sleep or breaks in between.
Having a healthy, cohesive and multi-functioning team is what will make the process less daunting and more exciting.
We’ve rounded up five quick tips for building a winning team for your hackathon, regardless of your skill level or experience:
The best headstart you can give yourself is to start looking for teammates immediately after you decide to participate in a hackathon.
Don’t wait until you’ve got an idea in mind—once you’ve decided to take part in a hackathon, put the word out and find out if anyone’s interested.
Start with your own network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances, then visit popular platforms and communities like Quora or Stack Exchange. Go to meetup groups and networking events for developers and tech experts.
It’s no secret that diverse teams perform better. When looking for teammates, make it a point to seek out people who are different from you. You want your team to be made up of unique strength and ability, and that only comes from diversity.
You can look for diversity in domains, like business management, frontend development, UX design, or you can focus on diversity in demographics, gender, race, background, etc.
When it comes to domain diversity, having a well-rounded team can be an invaluable help, right from the ideation phase all the way to execution.
Most hackathon teams are usually made up of three to six people and a strong team typically has members with complementary skill sets—a project manager, a few coders, someone to focus on design, etc, etc.
Having a group of five data scientists and one coder isn’t likely to succeed, just as a group of business analysts won’t be able to build a viable product in the end.
Whatever diversity means to you, having a team with different skillsets and background will help you supercharge in building a viable product at the end of the hackathon.
Once you’ve got your team together, it’s absolutely crucial you understand everyone’s strengths and approaches. In most cases, there are a few roles that every hackathon team needs, and you can save heaps of time by assigning those based on everyone’s core strengths.
By assigning tasks in this way, each team member has the chance to work on specific things that they’re especially good at.
Prepare for this as much as you can—if you have enough time, try a preparation exercise where you come up with a mock idea and get the team organised into tasks and roles and see how you work as a team. The more prepared you are for this, the higher your chance of succeeding at the end!
This may well be the most important tip of all. While having a solid team dynamic is fundamental in any context, hackathons come with a level of pressure, stress and exhaustion that can only feel worse if you’re stuck with a team that you don’t quite click with.
Find people you think you’ll be able to work well with and make sure everyone is bringing some level of value to the table.
You can set your team apart by miles with this short exercise. It’s also a useful way to gauge each members ability to dig deep and think outside the box.
During the ideation phase, get together and brainstorm the message behind the hackathon.
What are the companies looking for? What do they really want? Who are the event sponsors? How are they connected to the company running the hackathon?
A hackathon organised by Apple, for example, is probably looking for final ideas that will utilise the iOS system, even if down the line. Get your team in the right state of mind before the hackathon even begins, or use this as an exercise to find your best members.
Aside from the fun and camaraderie involved that draws so many programmers and innovators to hackathons all year-long, you also need to develop real solutions that solve real problems.
To do that, you need a fantastic team.
One way Eventornado makes life easier for hackathon organisers and participants is in the way teams are formed. Before our customers starting using Eventornado, team formation was a little messy.
Without a centralised place to communicate, participants would usually submit their ideas on some type of survey form. Then, they would get invited to a Slack workspace with other participants, and pitch their idea in a huge channel, pitting against hundreds of other participants promoting their own ideas.
With Eventornado, it’s easy to reach out to others and start the initial team-building process once you’re in the platform. You can find people based on criteria like skillset or experience level, start the conversation, and quickly figure out if you’re a good match.
A great team can adapt to any situation, and it’s why it’s so important to make sure yours is a winning one. Want to find out more about how Eventornado makes team formation easy as pie for tech experts and innovators? Request a demo of the platform and see for yourself!
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