Manager   •   almost 4 years ago

How to: Deliver a winning hackathon pitch and demo [Video Links Included]

Hi everyone,

We are now approaching the final week of Hack4Equality, and we hope you’re all just as excited as we are!

In preparation of the Science Fair Demos + Finals coming up on Sept. 25, we’d love for you to check out what our experts at Ten One Ten Ventures and Yang Ventures have to say about delivering a successful hackathon pitch and demo!

WATCH: Austin Clements of Ten One Ten Ventures gives his top tips on how to give a winning hackathon pitch for Hack4Equality

WATCH: Jessica McGlory of Yang Ventures gives her top tips on how to give a winning pitch at Hack4Equality

We want to help you ace your project, so here are some more tips and tricks:

ProTip #1: Utilize your mentors
• Many hackathon projects are very clever and technically complex, but winners of serious hackathons are most often determined by how actually useful and relevant their projects are. Industry and community mentors that deal with these challenges on a regular basis will give you invaluable insights. Use them.

Don’t have a mentor yet? Request one! Here’s how:

1. Submit a project on Devpost

• Enter the basic questions around your project to submit. Don't worry about the incomplete submission - you can continue to edit your project until the submission deadline. This is just so we can do the mentor matching process!

2. Send an email with the following details:

• Team name
• List of team members (names and emails)
• A brief summary of your project and the link to your Devpost project
• Challenge Set mentor request(s)

Mentors are assigned on a first come first serve basis, so do this now!

ProTip #2: 99% of the time, focus on doing one thing really well
• You’ve heard this one before. Do one thing really, really well, so that it stands out like a shining star. Unless, of course, the main selling point of your product is a combination of features… In that case, feel free to ignore this ProTip.

ProTip #3: Get people to test
• Beg, borrow, and steal to get some user feedback on what you’re building. You work so closely on your projects, you’re bound to lose objectivity and miss obvious bugs/workflow inconsistencies that others will pick up easily.

ProTip #4: Document everything
• ...Development 101!

ProTip #5: Design matters
• Hackathon demos tend to be heavily visually-oriented; the more polished something is, the more confidence judges will have in it. Technical complexity is great, but beautiful technical complexity is greater. Put in the time to make things shine.

ProTip #6: Presentation skills matter
• You can have the most brilliant project ever, but if you can’t communicate why it’s useful or valuable, you’re dead in the water. Practice a ton. Get a friend or two to watch you demo - then instead of asking if they think it’s good/bad, ask them to explain to you what your product does. If they hit the nail on the head, you probably will, too.

ProTip #7: Don’t reinvent wheels
• Existing libraries and APIs and PaaS provide decent functionality and can save you time? Great. Use them. You’re building a prototype. You need presentable, not perfect.

ProTip #8: Start at the end
• Work backwards from your demo -- you only have 3 minutes to show off, so make sure you build the UI/screens you need to actually demonstrate your functionality first. Everything else is secondary.

Good luck!


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