Hackathons: My experiences

I was in my 3rd Semester when I decided to participate for a hackathon. So the first thing to do is to find a team, So I found three other tech geeks and we formed a team set for hackathons.

As we all were beginners, we decided to participate in a hackathon where problem statements are given beforehand and we can start thinking and working on our hack before the hackathon which is not the usual case in hackathons. Most of the hackathons declare problem statements during the inaugration and we need to plan and build our hack within the time frame of the hackathon.

Our very first hackathon:

We took part in a national level hackathon which had over 450 participating teams. We were nervous just by seeing the number of participation. But we were well prepared. We had registered around 15 days before and had started working on our hack. We had chosen problem statement in health domain. And we had built a skin care mobile application and our main feature was to detect skin diseases from image. And we planned for some other features like user authentication, home remedies for small skin issues, chat with a doctor etc.

As the hackathon started, we were informed that there will be 4 evaluation rounds and the first round was only a idea pitching round and no elimination, so we just pitched our idea to the mentors without any presentation, and we were suggested some features to add. Till the next evaluation, we had to implement new features that were suggested and also prepare a presentation. Moreover we all were working remotely and also working together with each other for the first time. So sometimes we faced some communication issues, but we tried to manage and worked as a team. Before our next evaluation, which was at 7:30 pm, we were working on our app and presentation till almost 7:29 pm. And we gave our presentation without even a single rehersal. It went well and we were hoping to get into next round.

As we felt that the judges were impressed with our app and they also suggested some more features to add. Just after the evaluation, we again started working on our new features and spent sleepless nights working and solving errors. We were glad that we were in for the next round. Similarly we got through next two evaluation rounds, and reached the top 25 finalists. Our joy was on the clouds as it was our very first hackathon and we surpassed almost 400 teams to reach the finals.

But the hackathon finals gave us some reality checks. We were asked really tough questions regarding the survival of our app in the real world and we realised that we need to rethink and rebuild our app as it has some flaws in terms of real world survival. As obvious we could not win the hackathon but we were glad that we were in top 25 teams.

Our Second Hackathon:

After our glorious performance in first hackathon, we registered for another one. And this one gave us a tough check because the problem statements were released at the time of hackathon, as it happens in most of the hackathons. Reading the 7 problem statements all of us were almost blank as we did not know any of the tech-stack that was required to build required hacks. Somehow we started with our project but because of lack of experience we could not give our first evaluation and so we were out of the race. This experience was like a puncture which flattened all our confidence.

But what we learnt was that the skills that we currently possess are not enough to carry on with hackathons, and so we all tried to learn some new tech-stack and were all set for one more hackathon.

Our third Hackathon:

This time, the problem statements were released a night before the event, so we all had a call and what we did this time was, that we searched for existing open source projects on github in the same domain which could help us. So that entire night we spent on finding some good resources and extracting the useful code out of them.

So when the hackathon started, it became easy for us as we implemented the user interface of our application from existing projects and the rest of the functionality could be easily done by us. This time our application looked really well and implementation was perfect, so the judges were impressed by our work. And to our surprise we won the hackathon. This win boosted our confidence and the experience taught us a lot.

These were some of my hackathon experiences which gave me lot to learn and I always look forward to more such experiences.

3rd Year B.Tech student | Tech-Enthusiast | Flutter Developer