What a Hackathon Taught Me

  • May 28, 2018
  • 3-Minute Read

A Hackathon is an event where computer programmers and other professionals collaborate on software projects. It can be adapted to various scenarios, such as a university campus or a company.

This hackathon was held by my Brazilian University.

Our theme was to make a technology startup about health, cities or education.

My university chose to mix four courses, or majors, in eight random teams of eight integrants where at least one person was from each course—it was originally intended to be two each, but there were differences in participation. 

The courses were:

  • Accountance;
  • Management;
  • Marketing & Publicity;
  • Software Engineering.

Now, the weird part, it was random draft.

They used four glass containers, one for each course. They would take at least one piece of paper with a name from each container to assemble a team.

Chances were most integrants of the teams didn't know each other before the event and the integrants had different mindsets altogether. This was a heck of a challenge.

We worked for 35 Hours, from Saturday 12:00 AM through Sunday 11:00 AM. Some people slept, I didn't.

Because of the randomicity of people, it was very hard to coalesce to a single idea, many teams took tens of hours to reach an idea and then start to work on that idea. My team included.

We were so tired when we started to work on the idea that we made huge mistakes.

We forgot to plan some details, our presentation ended up not showing our mock-up—the video was exported in a wrong format—and people wasn't leveraged as they should... it was a total mess.

Some key points I took from this:

  • A leader hears more than he says, he already is responsible for a lot of things and he should know to trust others on very important things too. A bad leader will break a good team.
  • Each member must have his talents leveraged by the team, delegation and assignment should be tuned for that, a good leader should learn what everyone can do before making decisions.
  • Everybody needs to defend an idea before throwing it away. Most of the time an idea can be built upon and improved, it could even become extraordinary. Don't give up too soon.

I learned a lot and met lots of new and exciting people, failing sometimes teaches you more than winning. There was a lot of mentorship about a ton of hypothetical scenarios. Except for the poor team mechanics and disappointment in not doing what I planned to do, it was a great experience.