• Hackathon Wrap-Up

    by Scott

    Team NoJack is still riding the high off of our second place showing at the BeMyApp Hackathon this weekend! We had a great two days spending time with and competing against so many ridiculously talented hardware and software hackers, and it was a real honor to have been chosen for one of the top spots.

    Our own Ash is a veteran of hackathons, but for the rest of us it was our first time. It may sound strange, but it’s really the most fun you can have while stressing out about your project, eating day-old pizza, and wondering when the Redbull-induced heart palpitations are going to subside.

    Based on this experience we can offer some advice to any up and coming hackers looking to wet their beaks on the hackathon circuit:

    • Your prototype doesn’t have to be pretty, but it does have to work

    A big part of the final presentation is the demo, where you show that your hardware or software actually functions. We lost some points here because the hastily hacked-together prototype we demoed sounded once then fell silent* (it worked perfectly a dozen times prior to the presentation, so we knew something was up), while other teams lost out entirely when their projects didn’t work as expected during the presentation.

    *The final version won’t be put together in a weekend, so not to worry.

    • Read the judging criteria carefully and craft your presentation accordingly

    Many of the other teams we saw had incredible ideas, but didn’t nail the dismount when it came to their presentations. Some of them even failed to bring up major criteria in their final pitches that the judges were looking for, which hurt them in the end. Be sure to carefully read the criteria and craft your presentation to address each point.

    • Spend time polishing the final presentation

    This one’s important. We were lucky to have two people dedicated almost entirely to crafting the presentation, and we spent several hours beforehand just running through the demo, presentation, and pitch. When you only have five minutes to present, making sure your speech is concise and everything runs smoothly is paramount. I mean the last thing you want is for your smoke and fog machine to stop working, or your T-shirt gun to jam while you’re trying to blast T-shirts into the audience from close range. That’s just unprofessional.

     

    So good luck to any future hackathoners out there!

    Link to photos from the weekend taken by the organizer:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/bemyapp

    Links to write-ups of the event from the organizer’s blog:

    http://blog.bemyapp.com/factory-hack-day-1/

    http://blog.bemyapp.com/bemyapp-factory-demos/

    image

    The latest NoJack prototype, now available in Tupperware! Yeah, it’s a little janky, but to be fair we only had two days to build it.