The 4 life-long principles I’ve learned from hackathons

After winning 5 hackathons without writing single line of code, as a team lead I have learned that winning or losing is not the key outcomes here, the ultimate outcome we should have reflected on a daily basis is:

“Am I bettering myself?”


It all started when Bikesh was organizing this super fun 1337 Bus Hackathon (Thanks Mike!).
We were given 3 keywords to propose a crazy idea that solves society problems: Social Network, Mobile & Events.
Our team developed a security key solutions with automated alerts to “PassOn” key online assets of the deceased such as email, social media accounts login to direct nominees. So that BOTH family and business affairs are well transitioned post-deceased.
1337 Bus Hackathon, 19 May 2012 1337 Bus Hackathon, 19 May 2012
Of course, this idea is not unique at all, but what makes us shine is that we built a functional prototype within time & resources constraints, and communicated the purpose that our audience could relate with.
Winning the first hackathon shaped me to become who I am today, and driven me into organizing AngelHack, the coolest hackathon with most projects continuity in the country. We have witnessed the birth of new startups from each year since 2013, and they are still operating today, that includes Shoppertise, Shoppr, QSmart, CultureGuru 文化达人 & Vase.
Personally, I have pick up 4 key principles from involving in no less than 20 hackathons wearing different hats during past 4 years.

1. Respect Time Constraints

Time is invaluable, but it is the first measurable unit economics that we have learned even before we were born during the 9 months wait.
If we could manage our time well in most aspects of life, it’ll be a “life-long-battle-half-won”.
I haven’t master it yet, it’s a daily affairs for me.

2. Team Work

Managers delegate Tasks, but Leaders inspire Actions.
One person in the team must be able to lead the team dynamics. But, the higher bar to set here is to get everyone lead themselves to achievements.
Self-initiative is a luxury, otherwise the only job that a leaders must do well is to rally and guide the team towards achieving shared goals.
Be a consistent provider, your team will follow suits, and everyone gets to achieve more collectively as a team.

3. Think Mid Terms

Don’t crave for instant gratifications, millennials love it, but don’t.
Think ahead in 3-6 months time frame, it will certainly improve your thought process. You need to exercise your minds, think of it as heavy lifting for your “brain muscles”. Strength does matters.
It is so easy to be distracted by various source of noise, be an effective human filter to non-sense, avoid putting attentions on wrong things.

4. Be Resourceful

We are the ultimate beneficiaries of our own produce. Internet has scaled up the access to information for the world, enabling unlimited access to ever growing knowledge units.
Never start by saying you don’t know how to do something, that is lame and simply means you haven’t try 99 times yet.
Either online or offline, we should know how to keep investigating for better insights and outcome. Keep asking questions, and the questions will eventually leads to wisdom by itself.
I pick up many lessons in extremely hard ways, and am still constantly learning and reminding myself of the 4 principles.
 AngelHack KL 2015, 13-14 June
In reflection, I am very honored and grateful to have a cohesive and willful team to support the cause of organizing impactful hackathons over the years, I cannot thank them enough, because it is humanly impossible to achieve great impacts if we work in silos.
Life-long friendships were established during these intense yet rewarding experience in a hackathon weekend.
Joining hackathon has not just changed my life, it has transformed me into a hope maker to inspire many others change theirs.
In this coming AngelHack (, let my team do the impossible, so that your team can build stuff that matters.

“Don’t sleep on ideas, rally a team to build it and most importantly, grow friendships.”


We’ll see you there! 😉