How to decode the path to victory

Hackathons are becoming increasingly popular, providing unique experiences to develop skills, create innovative solutions and find new contacts. In this article, I will share my experience of participating in hackathons and strategies that ensure victory.


Meet the Inn.Team from Innopolis University, we won the “TenderHack” hackathon, which took place in Kazan from October 20 to 22, 2023. But first, a little background.

Is it necessary to waste time?

It all started with participation in the TenderHack hackathon in September 2021, where they had to develop a recommendation system. For most of us, this was the first experience of participating in such competitions. However, it turned out to be a complete failure. Nights without sleep, low accuracy of recommendations, a frontend written by a backend developer just an hour before the presentation, and the illness of one of the team members – all this made the first hackathon a real test.

Despite this, we continued to participate in various hackathons and actively develop. Over the course of two years, we managed to participate in several competitions and significantly improve our level of professional skills. And in the previous hackathon they were among the favorites and were one step away from the prize.

We don’t regret participating in any of the hackathons; they all allowed us to try ourselves in different areas, identify our strengths and weaknesses and improve our competencies.

How did it go?

First day: preparation and definition of the task

Receiving Welcome Packs

Receiving Welcome Packs

We gathered at the venue and were presented with the problem that had to be solved as part of the competition. As it turned out, the team’s stack fit perfectly. We immediately discussed our future strategy and went home to get some sleep before a productive day. Experience shows that it is more rational to stay for the second night, when there is a better understanding of the problem itself and how to solve it.

Day two: problem solving

We were given three free meals a day in the restaurant and coffee breaks, it was impossible to get hungry

We were given three free meals a day in the restaurant and coffee breaks, it was impossible to get hungry

We decided to parallelize the tasks as follows: the UX/UI designer develops a clickable interface (second subtask), at the same time Data-Scientist implements an algorithm for processing logs (first subtask), and backend and frontend developers prepare the REST API and the initial version of the portal (third subtask).

By the checkpoint in the evening, the interface prototypes and the segmentation algorithm were almost ready. We demonstrated our solution to the organizers, received feedback and realized that we were moving in the right direction.

Also, to unload, we decided to take a break for a walk, which allowed us to be more productive in the near future.

At night we allocated about 4 hours for sleep. Accommodation was not provided, so we had to sleep in the lounge room on ottomans, but we did not spend much time on the road, which turned out to be a decisive factor for delivery on time.

Third day: final chords and triumph

All that was left to do was to finalize the front-end together with the designer, make small changes to the back-end and combine all parts of the application to create a finished product. During the day, pre-defense awaited us.

Pre-protection

Pre-protection

Right before the deadline, we finished finalizing the solution (even skipped lunch) and began preparing for the defense, but we were immediately called in and had to improvise.

Based on the results of the pre-defense, 5 teams were selected to present their solution to the jury. We were among these teams.

The presentation included a presentation, a detailed description of the solution and a demonstration of working functionality.

Public defense before a jury

Public defense before a jury

Soon we were declared winners, emotions were at their limit, we could hardly believe what was happening. This was a huge achievement for our team.

Recipe for victory

We're at the awards ceremony

We’re at the awards ceremony

Winning a hackathon is the result not only of technical skills, but also of properly built teamwork.

Understanding the task

Each team member must fully understand the task, actively participate in discussions, and contribute ideas rather than simply following directions.

Time management

Optimal management of time and resources is the key to achieving better results. It is important to develop a plan for completing the task, including rest time, as it also plays an important role in achieving success.

Clearly defined roles

Effective use of each team member’s specialized skills is critical to achieving rapid progress.

Communication

Openness and constant exchange of information allow the team to stay on the same page. This helps to quickly identify problems and direct efforts in the right direction, because every minute counts.

Egor Kuzyakov (backend developer), Igor Abramov (data scientist), Egor Blinov (frontend developer, team leader), Dmitry Greblyuk (frontend developer), Alexandra Chupkova (UX/UI designer)

Egor Kuzyakov (backend developer),
Igor Abramov (data scientist),
Egor Blinov (frontend developer, team leader),
Dmitry Greblyuk (frontend developer),
Alexandra Chupkova (UX/UI designer)

Participating in hackathons is a valuable experience that makes you stronger, no matter where you place.

The purpose of the article is to show what hackathons are and how they work, and the choice to participate in them or not is yours. Here you can find out about upcoming hackathons:

Don’t be afraid to take on challenges and develop. Good luck!

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