Finance Frenzy: A Truly Unique Hackathon Experience
Why Hackathons can be Unique and Inspiring Experiences
Hello everyone! As some of you may know, I was in 2 hackathons simultaneously for the last 2 weeks. Both finally ended last weekend, so in this article, I'd like to share my experience on one of them. I'll publish another article later for the second one.
Before we get to the article, I want to express a huge "Thank You" to all of you who wished me happy birthday this past weekend, even though I did not really mention it anywhere other than on my Profile.
It is a 40-hour female-only hackathon. I participated in a team of 3. One of them is a close friend (who wants to stay anonymous) and the third member, Lena, reached out to me and joined. We are all passionate in building something awesome for this short hackathon.
Since the start of this pandemic, money management has never been more important to many families. And unfortunately, without the tools of financial literacy, families are struggling to save, invest and understand the implications of their decisions to their wealth.
Furthermore, schools never emphasize on the importance of wealth management and finance education. We were always taught that Math is important, Chemistry is important, but what about accounting? Taxes? Investing? These areas of knowledge are just as important to a young adolescent as traditional school subjects.
So for this hackathon, we build Finance Frenzy because we believe knowledge is empowerment. This is an educational game app that can help guide anyone to the path of financial literacy.
About Finance Frenzy
- A simulation game where the player has to learn how to read market conditions and make informed financial decisions based on the tools the game provides
- It uses historical stock prices, interest rates and inflation data (aka real data from 2000-2020) to simulate the market
- Allows player to make their own decision and build confidence/take responsibility for the outcomes of their financial decisions
- Goal is to help player understand the relationship between commodity prices, interest rates and inflation, wealth management, assets/liabilities etc.
- See their end net worth value after 20 years, see the high scores board.
- Replay to learn which decisions the player made that went wrong or could have been better.
For more information, please visit the links:
At the end of each hackathon, I like to reflect on what I've learned and things I've gained from the entire experience.
Because Lena is living 12 hours behind me, we had to find a good communication channel to always keep the team up-to-date with our progress.
We decided to use Facebook Messenger as our main communication channel. To ensure we know our roles well for the hackathon, we set up a quick Google Meets call a week before the hackathon. I was appointed the team leader and lead the meeting, organizing our ideas and roles before the big day.
I learned how important it is to prepare and communicate early. That way, no one is lost on the day of the hackathon.
Everyone has their own strengths and from this hackathon, I learned the importance of working together to maximize each member's skills and build a product in 40 hours.
Since Lena was more of a designer, I gave her a creative role, a role she would excel at. Of course, I made sure she was okay with it and that she can let me know anytime if she wanted to try programming.
Good teamwork can help maintain positive team vibes, and I am proud that our team achieved that. Even though a 40-hour hackathon can be daunting and anxious to many people, we kept our energy up by sending funny GIFs and heartfelt messages to our chat group. It's all about the GIFs haha. Lena especially liked the ones I sent.
Another important lesson I learned is to always be reachable when your team members need help. Since this is a virtual hackathon, there is definitely a communication barrier, such as the time zone difference. Our team overcome this challenge by being online as much as we can, and respond to messages as quickly as we can to support each other.
3. The Growth/Learning Mindset
What I truly love about hackathons is that I get to meet and work with new people. And it never fails to surprise me how much there is to learn each time I work with someone new. This hackathon is no exception.
In our team, Lena took on the design role. She has experience in design and prototyping. She can even make her own art and simple animations. For a while now, my hackathon teams has mostly consisted of developers; and we only cared about functionality over appearance.
But Lena introduces a new approach to hackathons that I've never done before. That is, emphasizing on appealing visual mock-ups rather than the working prototype to the judges. Hence, the mock-ups are the ones featured in the demo video. Not the actual functioning prototype itself.
She taught me to be open-minded to new ways of doing things and the importance of making a great first impression.
Look at my past hackathon submissions, where I had to design the thumbnails myself. Finance Frenzy is at a whole new level.
Her vast knowledge of colours and design made this hackathon the most visually appealing submission so far. Her resourcefulness to use tools that I never used before inspired me to make my next hackathon project with the same flare and personality.
Overall, this hackathon was a blast. It was short, but it was definitely an impactful one. Regardless whether we win or not, I enjoyed working with this team and this project very much. I learned that there's always something new to learn from anyone. This team was truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
I felt our team were all winners, even though we did not know if our project won or not at that time. That's because we all have gained something more valuable than material prizes.
Note: After a few days, it turned out we won the Best Finance Hack and achieved 6th place! Congrats to all the winners in this list too!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope it was somehow helpful, even though this is not a tutorial article. If you haven't participated in hackathons before, I highly encourage you to try. It will be an unforgettable experience. To search for upcoming hackathons, I like to go to devpost.com or even keep an eye for hackathons here on Hashnode!
If you have any questions on how to get started on hackathons, how to form teams, what to prepare, etc., please feel free to reach out to me or comment below! Stay safe and cheers!
P.S. I'm in a new hackathon now because this hackathon inspires me so much!