Building a killer app is no small feat, however with the right idea, you can turn a two-day event into a multi-million dollar product. The hackathon phenomenon has been gaining popularity since the mid-2000’s, with an entire developer culture being built around it. Hackathons are a powerful tool to develop ideas with a flurry of fresh creativity and design. Lasting anywhere from several hours to several days, hackathons present teams of developers with a challenge to develop working apps in a race against the clock. Hackathons are not just something fun to do (because who doesn’t love drinking fifteen Red Bulls and sleeping on the floor), but are also physically and mentally demanding competitions where ideas are born and legends are made.
There have been a variety of highly successful companies and apps that are a product of these competitive events. Companies such as GroupMe, Carousell, and EasyTaxi all started as winners of various hackathons, and went on to be acquired by major tech companies for whopping sums of cash! But how? Let us show you. Fueled by prizes, pizza, and purpose, you can use hackathons to build your killer app.
Develop your skills
Hackathons provide an opportunity for developers to put their skills to the test in a unique environment. There is something special about the clock. Feeling pressured to build a working product in such a short period of time really forces developers to utilize critical thinking, team work, and development skills in ways that are not required under normal situations. The efficiency required to build apps is a powerful skill that strengthen developers’ skill-sets and give them many advantages in their day-to-day coding life. Hackathons are among one of the greatest events to develop your skills as a developer, teacher, and teammate.
Because there is often money on the line, and a limited amount of time, you will be forced to get creative and work outside normal conditions. You will find that you will have to quickly improvise and utilize skills outside of your direct expertise. This is a perfect opportunity to develop yourself as a developer and learn new talents to add to your skillset. Additionally, hackathons generally do have specific themes and guidelines that limit what apps you can build, which will also force you and your team to diversify into industries that may not be within your expertise. This should not discourage you from participating, as it is a chance to expand and grow in a fun, competitive environment.
In addition to developing your skills, hackathons are a great place to meet new people. Between the companies running the event, the judges, and the other teams, you will have no shortage of valuable connections to make. Utilize this time for your benefit. Network. Get feedback. Because hackathons are short and intensive events, it forces you to work closely with other professionals and test out chemistry. Camaraderie and teamwork are invaluable to win these events. You might just meet your next co-founder, advisor, or even land some funding to kickstart your new killer app. Or perhaps, you’ll just meet new friends. Either way, you’re sure to collide with some interesting people on your journey.
Get on the radar
The sponsors of hackathons have a clear purpose for hosting the event. There are scouts attending hackathons whose primary focus is to seek out talented individuals building innovative solutions. This is the perfect opportunity for you to showcase your talent and get noticed by larger corporations. We published an article on the role of hackathons in corporate innovation where we break down how companies use hackathons to stay competitive and develop new ideas to incorporate into their existing model.
There are a variety of popular corporate-sponsored hackathons that have been wildly successful over the years Companies such as Samsung, Paypal, Foursquare, Capital One, Hasbro, Ford, Edmunds, Sears, TechCrunch, and many other Fortune 500 companies have held hackathons and replaced millions of dollars in R&D with a room full of hungry developers with ambitious ideas and dreams to create the next killer app.
Test the waters
Hackathons are also a great place to test the waters. Not only do these events allow you to use technology in a way that’s never been done before, but you can use them as a means to get valuable feedback for your product. Talk with other teams, judges, and hosts. Get feedback, take notes, and ask questions. What can be improved upon? What features do people love the most? Is there anything missing? How was the user experience? What other notable feedback did they have? These are some important factors to consider when building your killer app.
Get advice from experts for your problems at the hackathon. Some hackathons have an incubation period during which you can elect to spend time with experts in your field. This is a unique opportunity for you to speak to an industry leader who has a deep understanding of your target market and customers. If you are serious about bringing your product to the general public, then seeking professional advisors is imperative, and what better venue to find seasoned talent than a hackathon?
It’s no secret that building successful products requires capital. The amount of resources required to deploy an attractive killer app can be costly, and having funding of any kind can mean the difference between being able to build your product or not. Hackathons are among the most effective ways you can get yourself in front of the deepest pockets. Here are some of the largest hackathon prizes in the industry:
- Makers Against Drought (sponsored by Samsung) – $90,000
- GlobalHack – $30,000
- Money 20/20 – $20,000
- IBM Spark – $27,500
- TechCrunch Disrupt – Up to $250,000
- Kambria Global Grand Challenge – $40,000
Tips to rock your hackathon challenges
For more tips, please visit our blog. We are developing educational curriculum to prepare you for hackathons in order to capture all these benefits, including this article for tips on how to innovate and win hackathons: https://blog.kambria.io/pro-tips-to-rock-your-hackathon-challenges/
Vietnam AI Grand Challenge
Kambria has launched the Global Grand Challenge 2019. In conjunction with the Vietnamese government’s Ministry of Science & Technology and the Ministry of Planning & Investment, Kambria will work alongside McKinsey & Company, VietAI, and the Vietnam Innovation Network to deliver a series of hackathons and educational workshops across several different countries to create the Ultimate Personal Assistant using advanced Artificial Intelligence and Robotics technology. Utilizing the Kambria platform, developers will collaborate to deliver solutions for our partners, including top corporations in Vietnam such as VTV, with a chance to win up to $40,000 USD in prizes.
This initiative will kickstart the campaign of AI learning and development in Vietnam by gathering the country’s best talent and supporting them with world-class resources. The Vietnam AI Grand Challenge is part of Kambria’s Global Grand Challenge, which will take place in major tech hubs around the world, with the goal of growing Kambria’s user and developer communities. All hackathon participants will be utilizing Kambria platform’s bounty.
Read more about the Vietnam AI Grand Challenge in this press release featured on Yahoo Finance.
We invite you to learn more about the Vietnam AI Grand Challenge, a government-backed initiative organized by Kambria, that will bring together Vietnam’s best AI talent and support corporations in Vietnam and globally in designing the ultimate virtual assistant. To learn more and register, please visit: https://www.aigrandchallenge.com/.
Also published on Medium.