I really should have posted this sooner, but I’m headed to the Developer Week Hackathon this weekend. After thoroughly enjoying last year’s API World Hackathon, I’m really looking forward to this, especially as I’m more prepared and know what to expect.

Typically these Hackathons have a list of partner-sponsored “challenges," which involve using some company’s API or tool or whatever in your program. Prizes for winning a “challenge” are usually decided by the given company’s judges, with some sort of grand prize decided by the hackathon itself. At this hackathon, prizes range in value from $18,000 to $180. Sometimes it’s cash, sometimes it’s a nice piece of hardware, or a subscription to a service. Last year I won this absurd $1000¬†Cisco Meraki router¬†which is currently forcing everyone in my neighborhood to see my clever wireless AP name.

The winners at the last Hackathon were all people who made a product around which they could structure a company, rather than just a hacky, fun little project. Judges would ask questions like “how could you monetize? Who would your target audience be?” We’ll be trying to bear that in mind this time around.

Last year as well we spent a lot of time derping around with getting an infrastructure set up - this year I won’t be afraid to recommend tools like Create React App or just straight up cranking something out in Express and jQuery. Better to have a semi-functional prototype than waste time doing things that can just be done better on our own time.

Last year I made a lot of good friends, including a couple people helping run the show. This allowed me access to events and parties during the conference itself I may not normally have had access to. Hackathons are a great way to make friends and network with a wide swath of people you wouldn’t normally have access to. It’s also a great way to get your hands on technology you wouldn’t have access to. We were using an API that allowed things such as sentiment analysis, and when we had issues getting it working, I brought my laptop over to the table of the company owning the product and was able to pick the brains of one of the engineers that had actually designed the API. Good fun.

If you’re going to this Hackathon as well, be sure to shoot me an email and let me know!