In the past two years I’ve had the awesome opportunity to compete in the Rails Rumble with a fantastic team and finish in the top 8 both years. In 2010, with our entry CommendableKids.com, we finished first in the U.S., were named a TechCrunch Top 5, a runner up from Chargify for most likely to monetize, won the appearance category, and finished fourth in the world out of 180 teams. The year before, with our entry PeepNote.com, we finished 8th out of 237 teams worldwide, and were named by Mashable as one of the “11 New Apps We Love”. Both years were a great experiences I will cherish forever and I highly recommend it to all web builders as a way to strengthen and expand your skills.

This year I helped organize and judge the First Annual Tampa Mayor’s Hackathon, which was a lot of fun to be a part of as well.

For this year’s Rumble, I’ve decided not to compete, but instead will participate as one of the judges. Because I’m not competing, I want to help you compete by sharing my experiences and lessons learned.

Beginning tomorrow, I will publish an article every few days with tips on How to Win a Hackathon. I’ll also be speaking in Tampa on the topic at the Tampa Ruby Brigade meetup on Thursday, Sept 20th, if you are in the area and would like to attend.

I plan to cover topics such as picking an idea, assembling your team, planning your deliverable, team communication, promoting and marketing your entry, handling the hackathon hours, and more.

Hopefully you’ll find some helpful tips from my experiences and if you do, that will make my time competing in them even more worthwhile.

Here are the other articles in the series:

  1. Why you should not compete in a hackathon
  2. What’s the big idea?
  3. What’s in a name?
  4. Bring your A-Team and don’t forget the designer
  5. Communicating and collaborating effectively
  6. Know What The Judges Are Looking For
  7. Plan to succeed
  8. Don’t forget your health
  9. Everything else you need to know