5 tips to make MxHacks an unforgettable hackathon
5 tips to make MxHacks an unforgettable hackathon by Jan de Vries
Mendix World 2019, the largest low-code event of the year, is closing in fast, and that means MxHacks is, too! On April 15, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, hackathon veterans and first-timers alike will gather to compete in a 24-hour hacking binge.
Whether this is your first hackathon or you’ve done dozens of them, read on because we’ve got some essential tips and tricks to make the most of your MxHacks experience.
1. Have fun and make some friends!
If it’s your first time at a hackathon, don’t worry about winning or losing. A hackathon is a unique experience where you’ll make friends, learn about cutting edge technologies, play fun games, get a sugar rush from all the food and drinks, and generally have a great time tinkering with cool software. Speaking of a sugar rush, winning is just the, ahem, icing on the cake!
MxHacks is a great chance to meet other Mendix developers, from beginners to experts, and from UX designers to hardcore backend integrators. Come prepared to expand your network, make some new friends, and boost your Mendix career. That’s really how you win.
2. Learn, learn, learn!
Hackathons are your chance to level up. You might think that a hackathon is a 24-hour, glued-to-your-laptop contest. Surprise, it’s not! Most hackathon events offer extra content, like presentations, workshops, a game room, or a bar or lounge where you can relax and connect with other developers. This is no different at MxHacks.
Throughout the day, we will provide accelerator workshops to help you boost your productivity and creativity, teach you about new technologies, and help you upgrade your skills. It’s a great way to get unstuck if you hit a roadblock and get some new inspiration. Experts in both hackathons and Mendix development will be there to share their expertise in free 30-minute sessions.
3. Prepare yourself before the hackathon
While you’ll have 24 hours to build a solution, you can maximize your chances with some good old-fashioned preparation. Even though you’re only allowed to start building your app at the hackathon itself, here are some things you can do beforehand:
- Think of the scope of your app
- Is it a mobile or web app? Or both?
- Make some mockups/wireframes
- Which technologies are going to be part of your app? GPS, machine learning?
- Think of a name for your app
- Determine who will use the app
- Pretty much anything else that isn’t building the app itself!
4. Spend your time well
You’ll have the best experience if you come prepared. That’s why we’ve made a rough break-down of the day and how you can best spend your time.
First hour – Introductions and use case presentations.
Second hour – Decide on a use case or find a team (if you signed up individually). Agree on who does what right from the start to make sure you don’t get in each other’s way by committing changes that mess up your teammates’ progress. Who will create the pages and navigation? Who makes the designs and UX? What about integrations? And don’t forget about pitching the solution for the judges the next day!
3 – 22 hours – Hack your heart out! This the meat of the hackathon, the time to create, make and innovate. Some tips to optimize this experience:
- Stay hydrated! It’s easy to forget to drink enough because you’re too busy building the next billion-dollar solution. Keeping yourself hydrated will help with that, so, always have a bottle of water handy. Don’t let anyone get you a drink either; get up yourself and walk to the coffee corner. This gets the blood flowing, pushing fresh oxygen to your brain, which — you guessed it — is good for your creativity and your solution.
- Take breaks. No, really. Plan your breaks, the short ones as well as the long ones. You can plan the breaks so that there’s always someone on your team working on the solution. Taking one- to two-hour naps helps with productivity and reduces the chance of mistakes.
- Appoint a pitch person! The pitch: probably the most important five minutes of the whole hackathon. Before you start hacking, select a person on your team to do the pitch, so they can think about and prepare the content throughout the day.
- Attend training sessions. As mentioned above, the training sessions can boost your team’s chances of winning and are a great way to learn something new.
22 – 24 hours – Aim to have your app ready two hours before the deadline. That way, you have some room for final testing, bug-fixing and making the final touches to the pitch. Don’t start anything new! Just polish it up.
Afterward – The 24 hours are over. You’re exhausted, running mostly on adrenaline and caffeine, and now you have to pitch. You have only a few minutes to convince the judges that yours is the best solution.
When the pitch is done, you can start packing up and clearing out, get some sleep or go to the main Mendix World stage and watch Derek Roos’s opening keynote. You won’t want to miss it.
5. Bring your essential survival kit
Embarking on a hackathon journey is paired with quite a few dangers, like running out of coffee, dead batteries, not enough pens and paper. At MxHacks, there will be a constant stream of black gold, power sockets to charge your mug warmer, and notepads and whiteboards with markers for your doodling.
Things to bring yourself:
- Tech & Gadgets – Your laptop and phone aren’t going to last 24 hours, so bring your chargers! The same goes for your smartwatch, USB fan, or Anki Cozmo. And don’t forget a mouse, mousepad, mug warmer, headphones, Alexa and other handy little things that get you through the hackathon.
- Pillow and blanket – as we advise above, take a couple of quick breaks and two-hour naps. To make your shut-eye as comfortable as possible we recommend bringing a simple pillow and blanket. Oh, and if you want to make sure you don’t wake up during your nap, you could upgrade your kit with some earbuds and a sleeping mask.
- Warm clothes – It’s not that we won’t have the heat on, but it can sometimes get cold in Rotterdam in the Springtime. Having a sweater, hoodie or pullover handy is ideal when you want to take a break and go for a walk.
- Toiletries – Trust me, a toothbrush is a life-saver! Some deodorant will go a long way as well. And while there is no shower on the premises, you’ll want to bring some toiletries and a change of clothes, so you can appear fresh to the world on day 1 of Mendix World.
- Good music – You know what I’m talking about: the type of music that gets you into the zone, that gives you the perfect focus, and makes you the unstoppable force. And headphones, to drown out the noise.
- Your million-dollar smile! – Bring your positive attitude and be ready to rock this hackathon. It’s going be a super fun ride, so make the most of it!
Register now and get a free pair of Mendix socks!
That’s right: free socks. Go and register for MxHacks before March 22 and earn yourself some Mendix socks! Who doesn’t love socks! Make sure everyone in your team registers individually. We will be forming the teams closer to the event. Don’t have a team? No problem, you can sign up individually and join the team-forming event at the hackathon. Who knows, you might meet the next Mendix prodigy.
What are you waiting for? Click the banner below and register now!