A hackathon where one-man team is not allowed

Published on May 26, 2014

GeoHackathon is a Singapore hackathon on making love making apps using OneMap API.

Unfortunately, one weird rule they have is:

No one-man teams are allowed.

I asked UP Singapore why not? It seems they believe the best ideas are not developed by a one-man team.

To which I replied (I wasn’t in my best mood that day):

Unless it is making love, I don’t see why I must necessary have a partner when it is making apps.

I am not against having partners and forming teams.

But sometimes, a one-man team is probably the best.

Time is short

A hackathon is usually only 24 hours, and that is not a lot of time. To form a team on the day itself, and to discuss what app to build, who does what - that could already take up half the time.

I have seen and heard that happening, and usually these teams couldn’t finish the app.

Or the app is more “screenshots” than actual “coding”.

Worse if you don’t know the team

Ad hoc teams that are formed on the day itself is the worst. They need to spend time to talk about what skills each of them have.

Imagine listening to a marketing/biz dev person talk about himself for 10 minutes - and then you trying to determine how he can play a role..

And the team needs to trust each person skills.

And in such collaborative work, all it takes is 1 person to fail in his task, and the mission will go haywire.

How to split the prize

In the recent Startup Asia hackathon, the prize for the Chevrolet challenge is a pair of ticket to Old Trafford with flight included.

Great prize. But how is a 5-men team going to split the pair of ticket?

That’s a problem more challenging than the hackathon itself.

A good idea can start with 1 person

I believe a budding idea should always be started by just 1 person (if possible).

As a full slack developer, I cover the full spectrum of development from design to writing server-client architecture. I might not be super-good with any 1 area, but I can cover all areas, and that is enough to make an idea happen.

Beyond the idea, or beyond the hackathon, I might need a team.

Yet that can be for later, when the idea/MVP proves to have the potential, and the business model to sustain the team.


I only encourage having a team when the team is made up of friends you have already worked with before, and trust is already instilled.

Or unless the objective of you going to the hackathon is to meet new people, and have fun chatting about ideas..