What is Hackathon?

Online Hackathons
Programmer in headphones checking his code on computer screen

Hackathon is made of two words “HACK” + “ MARATHON”, which means Heck Marathon or programming Competition, where many programmers, coders collaborate with one another, over a short period of time to create a new software or programme. 

The duration of this Codefest is usually 24 – 48 hours. Winning a hackathon doesn’t need to have coding or programming skills.

What do you do at Hackathon ?

Well you don’t start coding straight away, firstly you need to get into a team, and start seeking ideas to solve the given problem. You need to make a plan, which will help you to solve the problem, decide what languages you should use? What all you need etc.

Time here is very important hence, don’t spend too long in mere planning and choosing, otherwise you won’t get enough time to code your solution. The most important thing is to manage your team suitably so that everyone is working on a different task and you’re not held back with the same problems. Once time is up, you need to submit your solution,  it doesn’t matter if  it’s finished or not. If it turns out that your solution is best, then yes you will be the winner !

What are the different types of Hackathon ?

Hackathon is of different types :

  1. Industry specific Hackathons 
  2. Corporate / community specific Hackathon
  3. Application specific Hackathon 
  4. Online / offline Hackathon 
  5. Internal / External Hackathon 

What are the pros and cons of Hackathon ?

At, first let’s have glimpse into Advantages of Hackathon :

  1. It gives you a chance to approach problems you might not normally encounter.
  2. It helps you in developing digital skills for their work life.
  3. Online Hackathons provide you with an opportunity to get connected and network internationally. It helps you to exchange ideas and develop them. They also allow interaction between people from different countries and regions.
  4. As you will be working with people with different talents, and their unique interests. Working with these people from different profession, will help you learn a lot. The fact that you will be given a limited period of time to find your solution, makes it more fascinating and motivates people to come out with their best outcomes.
  5. It will help you to improve your skills, that too in a limited time period.
  6. It’s a competition, where you are going to confront continual challenges that will need you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and into new territory.
  7. Advantage of online hackathon over offline is, it is more cost effective than offline, No dress codes etc. needed.
  8. Hackathons are a great way to promote people to share knowledge, collaborate, and share risks and responsibility.
  9. Provides an opportunity to newcomers to the community.
  10. Provides a space and a time for participants to make headway on problems they are interested in.

Cons of Hackathon :

  1. If you are attending online Hackathons, you may feel lonely at times, even  when the whole world is on the other side of the screen.
  2. It’s harder to interact or guide with your teammates in an online Hackathon.
  3. Sometimes it’s hard to focus, in that environment, and in offline Hackathons, you may even not  get much sleep if it is a multi-day hackathon.
  4. You need to make a powerpoint presentation, which will be mandatory for all. And many times, some people just win by good pots, not by good programs.
  5. Many times, in offline hackathons, hygiene becomes a big issue for participants.

What are a few tips for Hackathon?

Below is few tips, which you should always keep in mind, before starting your Codefest journey :

  1. Don’t go and relax or have fun during a hackathon, even if it is a small web app on a framework you have never used before, just go out and learn something. You never know if you want to extend those skills further or try it out at another hackathon.
  2. Working in teams will be difficult and scary especially if you are an introverted person. Try to find people of your  same vibes and interests and make a good team.
  3. Be clear with the problem statement.
  4. Coding and testing requires a lot of patience, so be patient.
  5. The guy sitting next to you might have a great hack, but that is not the only thing the judges see. So, never lose hope and trust your talents and potential.
  6. Make sure you are perfect with the technology you will be working on. 
  7. Listen to all the rules and regulations given by the host.
  8. Time in Codefest Plays a very key role in winning. So planning everything nicely is also very important.
  9. Short list the best problem you and your team  can deal  with.
  10. Stay organized and focused during the  whole Codefest.

Hackathon Judging Criteria :

Hackathon Judging Criteria will mainly focus on following parameter before announcing the winner :

  1. Your idea 
  2. Does this have any business value
  3. Your creativity
  4. Powerpoint presentation of your solution 
  5. Does this have any future potential 
  6. Innovation, how innovative your idea is?
  7. What will be the social impact of your projects? Can it impact the lives of many people in a significant way ?
  8. How is the project technically? Sophisticated, advanced, complex etc.
  9. Does the team have the relevant experience to deliver this project effectively and responsibly.
  10. Is this a project that is ideal for your chain to support ? Is it a project that will expand the applications of your chain?
  11. How usable the solution is for the  target audience.
  12. How technically valid is the solution ?
  13. Do they build something  that will solve the real problems?
  14. Judges may favor projects with patient market fit 
  15. Is this project unique ?

If you are a coder and interested in hacking and programs and you want to develop your skills digitally, You should attend Hackathons. These Codefests will help you in many ways. Don’t think you don’t know much right now, because this is how  you will get an opportunity to learn new skills. You will also develop your team working skills. Mercer | Mettl online Hackathon platforms lets you seamlessly organize hackathons for hiring or engaging with your employees.