Entrepreneurs: Stop participating in hackathons just to win them

This month, I participated in an epic hack trip on the “StartupBus” — and it was the 12th hackathon I’ve been a part of in as many months.

I love everything about hackathons. The idea of simultaneously building relationships, teams and products for a fleeting moment under various constraints is fascinating, exciting and educational — and most of all, fun.

But post-judging, participants typically feel disillusioned. When they don’t win, the team is bitterly disappointed. When they do win, they argue over who gets what part of the prize. It happens nearly every time.

I’ve watched this again and again, and thought, “Isn’t this just about having a good time? Just relax!”

On the StartupBus from San Francisco to Austin, I got to know lots of brilliant, friendly people and was inspired by the ideas and passion of every team involved in the event. For those unfamiliar, it’s an annual 72 hour hackathon on a bus ride to the tech conference SXSW.

If there’s a better way to transition from a group of strangers to a tight-knit group of friends in 72 hours, I have yet to see it. From the lack of sleep to the sprints of work to the downtime without internet to the confined space to the rest stops to the steady stream of alcohol to the hard, looming deadline; everything about StartupBus seems designed to make you walk away with some new best friends.