What is Hackathon? Participate, Types, Skills, Process

Hackathon Definition


A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest, datathon or codefest; hacking marathon) is a design sprint-like event; often, in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, domain experts, and others collaborate intensively on software projects.

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is an event, usually hosted by a tech company or organization, where programmers get together for a short period of time to collaborate on a project. The participants work rapidly and often work without sleep to achieve their task, as the events generally only last 24 hours or take place over a weekend.

Types of Hackathon

Hackathons are great source of learning and meeting programming community. Hackathons is a workspace given to the set of programmers to develop something productive and useful within the the time duration i.e mostly 24hrs , 36 hrs or 48hrs . First of all hackathons are of two types:

Open hackathons & Closed Hackathon

  • Open hackathons – This type of hackathons are conducted by organization/community to promote programming and development . This are independent of what resources you use to create or develop your idea irrespective of field or domain you choose.
  • Closed hackathons – This type of hackathons are organized by certain companies to come up with the solutions for the problems they are facing in their system or their field of domain.

How to Participate in Hackathons?

Now coming back , Open Hackathons are great for learning . There are three stages for participating in a hackathons:

  1. Idea development – Getting a great idea is always the first thing you should work on. Winning a hackathon is determined by how much unique your idea is, and great is always around you , only thing is you need to look around with that vision. Maybe the problems you’re facing in your day by day life can lend you a great idea .

(P.s – I got my idea by the problems I was facing in my everyday life , so I decided to build the solution. (Even now I’m building it , pls don’t spam the comments section by asking what was your idea) )

  • Getting a proper team – The second important thing is finding your right team, because your team me lead you to success or failure. Try making your team with people having same grudge for developing a solution.
  • Prototype development – Now you have a great and unique idea , have a great team what’s next? Now you have to think the best possible algorithms and programming skills to develop your prototype with the best possible language and services/software’s already present because you need to develop it in the give time duration right? 99% chances are that the tools you want are already developed by someone , so be smart and use them.
  • Presentation of idea to the judges – Up till now you already survived the technical challenges and have conquered them, this is the time to showcase your product. Try some psychological facts to convince the judges that your product/innovation is great. Learn watching videos of great presenting idols , the way they speak , the way they deliver their speeches etc etc.

Always winning is not important, sometimes the innovation you created is more precious.

There’s always a first time , enjoy your experience by taking the other programmer’s discussing about what they built, because the motive of hackathons are learning and meeting the programming community.

Skills to Participate in a Hackathon

 I’ll give you three different answers depending on the outcome you desire. There definitely isn’t a set list of prerequisites, but I’ll try to provide some general and specific remarks regarding things you should know going into the competition.

You want to attend: No prerequisites. Anybody can attend most non-competitive hackathons, and oftentimes people are there to learn the basics, provide business/design expertise, or simply network at the surrounding booths. You may not be useful/fufilled for the entire 24–48 hours, but you can be there!

You want to have fun: You should have some low-level experience in programming, and furthermore, in application/web design. This will give you the bare-minimum to make at least some sort of mock-up that you can present to the judges, and you can be proud of it! These skills could included HTML/CSS, JavaScript, data structures, introductory python/c/java, possibly Android/iOS/Ionic.

You want to win: As is stated by the other top comment, you should be able to modify sample code into a novel application with the potential for high impact. This oftentimes means you have experience in (some, NOT ALL, of) web, mobile development, JQuery/AngularJS, databases, web-scraping, speech-to-text, machine learning, AI, D3 (or another visualization tool) and/or networking. If you can modify existing codebases that do these things, you can create an entire application from scratch that could lead you to a ‘finalist’ or ‘champion’ designation. Odds are the hackathon will have a sponsored prize from a company (e.g., IBM Watson) and if you can implement their APIs into your app, you’ll have a high probability of winning one of the sponsored awards.

The benefits of participating in a hackathon

For anyone looking to enter the tech field, participating in a hackathon can be a great learning experience and offers a unique opportunity to build a powerful network.

“One of the best things about hackathons is the opportunity to meet new people who care about the issue or technology that you care about,” Gurses says. Whether it’s for project collaboration, finding a mentor or even potential employers, hackathons are a great place to make connections that could pay dividends in the future. Harris-Gallahue says his company frequently recruits new employees from hackathons.

Process of a Hackathon

The hackathon should take place in a unique environment that encourages creative thinking. We, therefore, search for a venue in Vienna and its surroundings.

1. Introduction & scope of tasks

The hackathon starts with a short introduction of the participating companies. The participants must receive enough information on the subject and the problem statement: Which subject area do participants dedicate themselves to? What is the task? Which problem should be solved? Defined groups start working right after the introduction. 

2. Identification of needs and problems

The first step is to analyze the search field by discussing the most significant problems and needs that users have already identified on this topic. Especially the LEAD users as affected users in this area play a central role.

3. Idea generation and prototypes

It is crucial to make sure that the teams have an equal level of knowledge, and they understand the importance of the topic. After a short lunch, the teams start generating ideas and work on the prototypes.

4. Presentation of interim results and feedback

In the afternoon, the teams present their first results to get feedback from other participants and the companies. The results are at least two prototypes and business models for each company and numerous ideas.

5. Hackathon night

After an interim presentation and feedback, the teams continue to work on their ideas and prototypes. Should any group reach an impasse, LEAD Innovation supports them with advice and suitable methods. 

6. Prototyping

Day 2 is dedicated to prototyping. The teams work intensively on the basic models or design of the product/service according to the concept.

7. Iteration

During a hackathon, the teams build and discard several prototypes. However, they have an opportunity to get feedback from both experts and companies to bring their ideas and prototypes to perfection.

8. Development of a business model

Depending on the search field, the teams create a business model that is an essential part of the final pitch as it explains how the team is going to earn money.

9. Pitching of ideas and prototypes

At the end of Day 2, the teams pitch their final ideas and prototypes, including the corresponding business model.

10. Closing program

All participants end the day ends with an evening program and open networking

How to find a hackathon near you

How to participate in a Hackathon? Hackathons are happening all of the time all over the world. One of the best ways to find one near you is by following websites committed to posting upcoming hackathons.

Here are a few to keep tabs on:

For another route, a simple Google search can reveal handfuls of hackathons at schools or universities near you! If you are having trouble finding hackathons in your area, there are also virtual hackathons in which you can participate from anywhere!

Important FAQ Regarding Hackathon

What is a hackathon? What do you do in it? Is it a team event? If yes, what are team sizes?

As the very name suggests in hackathon we try to use tech to hack into real world problem to solve them better. It’s a 24–72 hours product making competition where every team needs to develop a product from scratch during those pretty hours. A team size can vary from 2–6 depending on the organization who is organizing it.

How do I win hackathons?

With a few wins under my belt, a lot of people have asked me for tips and tricks and my possible hackathon “secrets.” I’ll try to keep it short and simple.
To give you a little background about me – I am in no way the best programmer and prior to my journey in hackathons, I actually never really made anything worth mentioning except a horse racing game on Turing (yeah, the oldest language in the book) but even then, that was in grade 11 and my buddy that sat beside me did basically 90% of the work. So you can imagine my confidence level when I made my way to my first hackathon…

What happens at a hackathon?

I went to a Hackathon once (won too), essentially when you arrive, they lead you into a large room with a cluster of pc’s or laptops, you can bring your own computer too.
I saw one dude come in with a full gaming rig with two monitors and everything

Which are the best hackathons in India?

Smart India Hackathon & Other National Level competition are the best hackathons in India

How can I prepare for a hackathon?

My experience as a hackathon participant and organizer showed me that a good start defines whether you’ll succeed or fail when implementing your solution.

What is the main purpose of a hackathon, and how can one participate on those events?

I already took part in approximately 8–9 hackathons and even won some of them so think I am eligible to answer this question.
There is a misconception in everyone’s mind that hackathon is basically to hack something( as its name suggests due to the word hack) or it is only related to coding but it is basically to build a prototype for your idea and problem statement in an innovative way in given time.
A hackathon is an event, usually hosted by a tech company or organization, where programmers, students and sometimes even professors get together for a short period of time to collaborate on a project. The participants work rapidly and often work without sleep to achieve their task, as the events generally only last 24 hours or take place over a weekend.
In hackathon you don’t have to invent something but rather you have to give an alternative approach to solve the real world problems in an innovative way keeping in mind the basics requirements of the user who is going to use it.

What do people do at a hackathon?

“Computer programmers and software designers collaborate and create a solution to an existing problem using technology,” Moore explains. Those participating in a hackathon will work with like-minded individuals to utilize new technologies and hack together tons of code from different sources to achieve the goal,

What do you need to participate in a hackathon?

This is an important question, especially for beginners looking to increase their involvement in the programming field. The entry qualifications and experience levels vary depending on the event.

What are the pre requisites to participating in a Hackathon?

There definitely isn’t a set list of prerequisites, but I’ll try to provide some general and specific remarks regarding things you should know going into the competition. You want to attend , you have to win, you want to explore a hackathon.

Do people cheat at Hackathons?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean you should. Cheating at hackathons usually means using code you wrote before the hackathon started. There’s also the important distinction between copying and pasting code from different sources to combine it to make it your own and copying and pasting code from a sole source and passing it off as your own. With GitHub now, it can be easy to find code online and use it for your own self.

What is smart India hackathon?

Smart India hackathon is an initiative by current government to engage engineering college students to solve problems stated by ministries on the smart India website. Students are required to submit idea and prototype. If selected, ministries will allow students to develop the product further. Thus this is mutually beneficial both to students​ and government. Former gets experience and hands on experience while later gets problem solved through technology free of cost. Government generates sense of competition by announcing best ideas with cash prize. Today, Narendra Modi interacted with students through video conferencing whose ideas​ were selected and were developing prototypes at various parts of the companies.

Do developers really code from scratch in a hackathon?

Yes, we code everything. From scratch.

Which Skills Required to do a Hackathon?

You should have some low-level experience in programming, and furthermore, in application/web design.

What are some great ideas for a Hackathon project?

Cool Hackathon Ideas:
FIrst of all I’ll start with why these ideas are cool
Have you noticed that most winning hacathon ideas over the past few years solved a major problem?
If you are Eagle minded and you realized that, then you should know that for you to win it, you ideas have to solve a problem, a Major Problem.
To make it easier for you I’ll be breaking down the ideas in Categories:
1. Education:
Trust me Education is becoming boring both for the Teachers and the students.
You could think of how you can use Education to make class lessons easier to understand, much more interesting.
This will indeed involve study tools, but trust me, a lot of persons are looking for solution to this problem.
Bringing up an app that students have all their notes pre handled to them in their phones is one of the ideas I’ll pull out to you.
Typically seeing a big book in your front, discourages on from reading, but students are more inclined to using their phones to read and study as they are attracted to it.
In Africa Teachers spend 90% of class room time reading out loud or Writing on the board their notes, and students copy them.
But what about if these notes are pre handled? Students will use 90-100% off class room time doing the actual learning.
This Hacathon Ideas is worth investing on, even if teachers don’t vote for you, all the Students will vote for you.
Cyber Bullying:
This is indeed another problem in the society, if you don’t know what cyber bullying is, it’s a way of bullying or harassment using Electronics means, majorly Social Media.
This causes emotional pain on young ones and many of them commit sucide after wards.
If you can invest your time bring in up an ideas to stop cyber bulllying you can win
Facebook now has the ability to block suspected spam links and also ponographic images.
But what if you design a program or AI that auto detect cases of cyber bulllying either in private chat, or in the News Feed it self, the Comment Box?
And then block that content and even penalize the user
You can design something like that, it is a majo idea to solving cyber bulllying, it’s a great Hackathon Idea.
Environmental issues:
Day in day out Contries in Africa and other parts of the world keep on facing enviorpmeyal issues, and if you can use Technology to solve this issue it will be a very good idea for the Hackathon event.
What about creating an app that can help to spread information about Enviromental issues and how to solve them?
This app won’t just tell you what to do but will also help you accomplish them.
For example, you could program the app to send a message to the Pick up Dirt Truck at the edn of each week to collect the waste.. without even bothering your self.
It could also set you a reminder to clean your Environment every sanitation day.
Having great ideas like this can help you win the Hacakthon Event.
I call this the In demand of the world right now, we all know how quality of health is dropping day by day, a lot of research has been done they have found the causes of these health issues.
Will there be any bad if you try your best to find out the solutions from these causes, of course not you could win with this hackathon idea.
Building an app that you can input the symptoms of your illness, and then get the suspected disease of ailment which should be accurate
The drugs to be taken is also recommended in the app as well, instructions should be left for the pharamcist or Doctor to see while taken to the hospital, although this relieve the doctor of minor work but it saves time
I’ll admit it, taking exercise is hard for some people especially when it’s hard for you u to track your progress, some phone producers like Samsung have includes the Calories Burning tracker in their phones.
An idea can be crafted by you to bring about Great results maybe an app that tracks the distance you’ve covered while walking, you can set a goal and that helps you to walk more and burn more calories.
Music is passionately one of the things I personally love, and I feel over the years it has improved because of technology.
You could make it better if you have a great hackathon idea for music, who knows? you can win it
Having an app that records and fine tune all audio recording while singing, rather than going to a studio and spend more money,
Having such app can help as it’s cost efficient and also it is more convenient and less stressful to carry out.
It seems like a big deal but the truth is it could be just another idea the world will love.
We know a century ago people were more inclined to Agric, but now it’s not the same it’s just so boring just like education and young ones are not attracted to it at all…
What attracts these young ones is the computerized life, so what if Agriculture was computerized all through out?
You could figure out a great idea from that and even grow it into a world wide practice it will be a great hackathon idea only if you can develop on it.
General Issues:
There are some issues that just doesn’t seem categorized you could find solution to them as well, irrespective of what they are there are always solutions when we try harder to find them.

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