3 Essential Persons Needed to Win a Hackathon

Team composition is a very crucial factor to win a hackathon. As hackathon is a very demanding type of competition, usually within 48 hours, participants will need to hand in a decent presentation deck and a functionable prototype. Therefore, to complete the tasks more effectively, you need teammates with diversified background. Ideally speaking, every team should have at least 1 programmer, 1 businessman and 1 designer.


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As mentioned previously, there are 4 main types of hackathons, the hackathon mentioned in this article refers to the third one. If you are interested to know the differences among the common hackathon types, please read my previous article.


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1. Programmer: Develop the Core of the Solution
Programmer is a very broad term, it can be further divided into front-end developer, back-end developer and data scientist. Depends on the topic, a team may need more than 1 type of programmer.
For front-end developer, they mainly cooperate with designer to transform the wireframe into a real application. This group of people must be familiar with at least 1 type of front-end developing language like CSS and HTML for website development. Front-end developer undoubtedly also needs to work hand in hand with back-end developer as their working pieces should be able to communicate with each other. It may take your team more than half day to solve compatibility problems.
The role of a back-end developer is to build the core functions of the prototype. The reasons why you need to have a workable prototype in the final presentation as it is the most valid proof to tell the judges that your solution is technically feasible. Same for data scientist, big data is a very hot topic now, in hackathons providing datasets, it is also expecting participants to build a model or give insights from the data. Again, same as front-end developer, these two groups of people are also specialists and have solid knowledge of programming languages or related softwares like JavaScript, R and Python.


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However, only programmers cannot make the solution appealing to the juries. That’s why designers are needed.
2. Designer: Beautify the Appearance of the Prototype
First impression is very important, especially in a short presentation. The pitching time in a hackathon is very little, usually around 4 to 8 minutes. It is quite similar to speed dating, beautiful women or handsome guys can easily draw others’ interest to talk to them. Same logic in hackathon, stylised interface will be more likely to draw audience’s interest to understand more. Apart from this, not everyone can think in the way a designer think. What makes a designer special is their creativeness, so having a designer in the team can add innovative elements in idea brainstorming and make the solution disruptive and stand out from others.


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3. Businessman: Convince the Judge Your Solution is the BEST
The business person in the team should be the best sales who is the most presentable person and have a very strong talking technique to persuade others. He or she will be responsible for thinking of what to include in the deck and the presentation flow. As most of the judges in hackathons have business background, having a person also from the business world may know better what the judges want to hear in the presentation. Business plan, cost-benefit analysis and competitor analysis may be some basic components that a business person can immediately think of to include in the slide, but if you ask a group of programmers to work on the PowerPoint, they may put a lot of formulas or codes in the slides and the presentation will be a very technical lecture. That’s the main reason why a team need a businessman, it is to have a translator to explain the technical knowledge in a more laymen way and help the audience digest the advanced technology used in the solution.


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If you are interested to take part in a hackathon, keep an eye on your neighborhood to find the right partners you need. Stay tuned to my hackathon series if you want to know where to find hackathons =)

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