Blockchain hackathons are the fastest way you can make good on your promise to “learn more about blockchains”. Companies, conferences, and banks host blockchain hackathon events as a low-risk way to determine if blockchain tech is a right fit.
There are so many blockchain hackathons, but very few guides on how to win a hackathon. Hackathons are the great equalizers, where good tech, design and execution wins the day. I’m going to show you how to dominate your next blockchain hackathon event.
We are going to break this guide up into two parts. The first part is mindset, and the second part will go over the actual technology you can use at a blockchain hackathon. We’ll start with mindset because your tools are useless without the right attitude and approach.
Get Your Mind Right: Beat Perfectionism
The best technologists, designers, or project managers all need a winning attitude in order to excel and ultimately win a hackathon. What does this mean exactly?
Perfectionism is one of those nasty habits that people like to humble-brag about. How many times have you heard, “I’m sorry, I guess I’m a perfectionist” from an Type A friend?
Perfectionism is a debilitating trait which prevents people from shipping their projects and stops them from taking healthy risks.
Alternative to Perfectionism: SWOT
SWOT stands for “Strengths”, “Weaknesses”, “Opportunities”, and “Threats”. Instead of fretting about getting every detail right- create a diagram that clearly spells out what are your team’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are.
A rule of thumb is to find your opportunities, exploit your strengths, protect against threats, and sure up your weaknesses. Let’s say you’re at a blockchain banking hackathon and the goal is to build an alternative banking system on an open Ethereum network. You have two members on your team- a blockchain developer, and a bank director from Bank of America.
Your SWOT list would probably look like this:
In this scenario you are confident that you can build an application that addresses real-world problems in the banking system. That is great, and it is useful to know that’s your team’s secret weapon. However, you lack a designer on the team and the app might not be as user friendly as you would like. No need to panic- for the design portion you might need to lean more heavily on a wireframing app like UXPin or JustinMind.
A SWOT diagram fights perfectionism with preparation. You can never be perfect, but you can always make the most of your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
When entering a hackathon, you want embrace tech that gets out of your way and helps you get the job done.
When I’m prototyping I look for the technology that has the best docs and tutorials. Right now that means going with Hyperledger and Ethereum. Hyperledger is an open source enterprise blockchain that is sponsored by organizations such as the Linux Foundation and IBM. The Hyperledger Developer Page has instructions to help you build a permissioned blockchain.
Ethereum also has very user-friendly docs. When you are creating an Ethereum blockchain you will have to use a programming language called Solidity. Haven’t heard of Solidity? No worries- the best part about Ethereum is that you can literally copy and paste basic code in order to create a token, ICO, or an autonomous democracy. After you grab the Solidity code, head over to Remix, a Solidity IDE, to create and deploy your smart contract.
Blockchain hackathons are a great way to turn a crazy idea into a working prototype. With the right mindset and technology, you will be able to plan, build, and breeze your way through a blockchain hackathon like a pro!