In less than an hour, teams from the TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon will begin presenting their apps and they will have just 60 seconds each to make the judges (and audience) fall in love with what they’ve built. There are several outcomes to optimize for during your presentation, but the two that stand out to me are:
- Win the hackathon by impressing the judges
- Win public interest and get the crowd excited about your app (a la GroupMe last year)
You can try going for both, but my personal opinion is that public interest trumps the opinion of a few judges who’ve only had 60 seconds to evaluate. With a little hustle, you can set yourself up to optimize success. If you’re product sucks, no amount of hustling will save you, but if you’re looking to tip the scales favorably in your direction this could be the key.
Know the Judges
I haven’t found them listed on the Disrupt hackathon website, but a few have already tweeted that they’re on the way to judge. Look up their profile, follow them, read their bio page (if they have one, most VCs do)
Pre-Seed the Audience with Your Product
Start giving away beta access to people now, create a Twitter account for your app, and jump into conversations and get feedback. If you have a small but vocal group of fans cheering for you after you demo that’s a little more social proof, and the judges will notice.
Use Technical Difficulties as Free Time to Vamp
It’s likely some of the demos will be plagued with technical difficulties: a Mac that finally decides to give up after having its CPU pushed to the limit all night, a broken cable, a missing dongle, a screen with some screwed up resolution. You can protect against some of this by asking to quickly connect your computer to the monitor you’ll be using to present ahead of time, just to be sure, but the odds are something unexpected will go wrong when you’re not expecting it. Instead of getting pissed or flustered, use that time to crack a joke, show some of your personality, and show that you can be calm under pressure.
Don’t Waste Precious Seconds on How You Built It
The judges and audience (unless they ask explicitly) probably don’t care about what you used to make this happen, so don’t waste precious seconds taking about your technology stack. Unless of course its Twilio, in which case I’d like to know so I can write about you!
Use the Last 5 Seconds to Create Warm Fuzzies
As you’re about to be kicked of the stage remember to be gregarious:
- thank your team
- thank the organizer
- shoutout to any special people who helped you
- let us all know where/how we can connect with you (your Twitter name, app URL etc.)
Draw the Fucking Owl
Hopefully you’ve been doing this for the past 24 hours, good luck teams!