A Recipe For Success at the Vancouver Startup Week Hackathon

By John Rugamas

Community and Customer Advocacy at Procurify

Co-Organizer for the #VSW2017 Hackathon



If you’ve ever cooked a new recipe, you shared the same feelings as anyone who decides to participate in a hackathon.


All you want is something yummy to eat. And in tech, we’re just trying to build cool things, with cool people, that will hopefully change the world.


Think about your one dish that hands down gets the most requests and wow’s. Did you make it that good on the first try? Maybe you did, and kudos to you for being such a good cook! But for most of us, it took time after time of messing up, adding a little too much of this and that, to finally master the dish.


You had to start somewhere. You were hoping it would be good. But if it isn’t, you know you can try again. And that’s what, I believe, entering a hackathon is about. It’s about messing up and building something cool with great new friends. Who knows – you might even change the world!


This year’s edition of the Vancouver Startup Week Hackathon is a place where the spirit of the week lives. A chance to connect and celebrate our startup community. The theme is “New Mobility”, and we’ve partnered with Evo Car Share to help hackers dream up new ways we get around in the future.


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There are a lot of tips out there on how to best enjoy a hackathon. For some of the more competitive types, how to win a hackathon. I’ve got some points to make sure you have a chance of completing a product that’ll make you proud. And who knows – maybe even win!


Start Small

You’ll be tempted to create a big product, and fully express your vision of the future! …but you only have 24hrs. Make sure to peel back all of the features and goals into a MVP (Minimum Viable Project) that you can create and demo.


Start with Why

To reference Simon Sinek, clearly communicate your why. Why would you build “X” to help solve problem “Y”? It will help you create your “How” and “What” when you build your project.


Show a Working Demo (even if it’s a MVP)

A product that works wow’s the judges a little more than simply talking about concepts and using slides. Your idea can be brilliant, but without a working demo, you may lose a few points.


Have Fun and Welcome to the Vancouver Tech Community!

You’ll discover something that’s sometimes hard to find – people like you! Of course, some of us are a little more shy than others, but push yourself to strike up a conversation. Find out why others are here, and learn about their passions. I hope you’ll find good teammates, and make connections that last even after the hackathon ends.


Join the #VSW2017 Hackathon here!


I have the pleasure of co-organizing this year’s hackathon, and believe participants will create some world-changing things. Looking forward to meeting everyone and enjoying 3 days of hacking with you!

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