My First Hackathon Experience: Building and Embracing Discomfort

first hackathon experience - desk layout with curved monitor, keyboard and coffee

The Beginning of an Unforgettable Journey

As I embarked on my first hackathon experience, I was both excited and anxious. Little did I know that this weekend would stretch my mind to new limits and lead to the creation of, an AI-powered goal visualization tool. My hackathon partner, Sarah, and I spent an intense weekend working together. We managed to create the actual product in about 10 hours, working tirelessly through the night, despite being in different time zones. We frequently video called to discuss progress and brainstorm ideas, pivoting our project multiple times as we encountered various challenges.

Unexpected Collaboration: From Discord to Linkedin

Our partnership was formed when I posted on the hackathon’s Discord that I was looking for a teammate. To my surprise, Sarah reached out to me on LinkedIn. She’s originally from the Eastern Hemisphere, but is currently residing in the Southern Hemisphere?! Little did we know, this partnership would push us to embrace discomfort and create something truly amazing.

The Necessity of Discomfort

The biggest lesson I learned during the hackathon was the necessity of being uncomfortable. As someone who has been hiding behind a computer screen and hesitant to showcase my abilities due to my past, this hackathon taught me the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone. Collaborating with Sarah on this project, I felt exhilarated as we built something from her idea. Connecting with others globally to work on a micro-level project was an incredible experience. I realized that I had to step out of my comfort zone to grow.

Sarah and I agreed that our primary goals were to have a good time and network with new people, rather than winning. The hackathon was filled with astounding projects, and we were proud to be part of it.

The Evolution of

Our initial plan was to create an AI-driven mood board/vision board app, incorporating elements like voice affirmations and AI-generated avatars, essentially a version of the user, based on their goals. However, we pivoted to another idea due to time constraints and technical challenges. Sarah suggested using Voiceflow with WhatsApp integration to create a chatbot with the same general idea but without voice dubbing and AI avatar generation.

As time was running out, we decided to focus on the user experience, leading to the birth of

Introducing Your Chatbot Time-Machine is an innovative AI chatbot designed to help users visualize and achieve their goals by conversing with their future selves.

How Works

  1. The user provides personal information, including their name, goal, deadline, motivation, and desired outcome.
  2. uses ChatGPT-4 to create a future persona.
  3. The future persona sends the user messages of encouragement, shares struggles they overcame, and thanks the user for making their achievements possible.
  4. The future persona also provides a list of actionable steps and sends motivational messages from time to time.

Overcoming Challenges and Celebrating Success

Our hackathon journey was filled with challenges, including changing the project’s scope and optimizing the GPT-4 model for real-time, contextually relevant responses. But we persevered and learned valuable lessons about AI technology, optimizing query performance, and leveraging modern platforms to create a scalable and high-performing application.

We are proud of our accomplishments, including implementing a robust NLP pipeline, developing a highly responsive conversation flow, and creating an accessible user interface.

The Hackathon Winners

I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the ingenious projects from the weekend. A massive congratulations to the winners of this incredible hackathon! With over 400 teams and builders working tirelessly for 36 hours, the competition produced more than 60 remarkable projects, and it’s truly inspiring to see the level of innovation and creativity on display. Kudos to the winning teams:

  1. It Takes Three
  2. Vodo AI
  3. Groove ai
  4. Voice Symptom Tracker
  5. K-Mon secured the Best Everyday Hack award

Your hard work and dedication have set an outstanding example for the tech community. Well done, everyone!

The Future of

The potential of is immense, and we’re excited to explore various avenues of development. This includes adding visual and voice features, building a community, providing additional resources, and conducting research on the chatbot’s effectiveness.

My first hackathon experience was truly unforgettable, as it not only pushed me to discover new limits, but also resulted in the creation of a potentially life-changing tool. Now, as I return to my day job at a café, I’m more driven than ever to pursue my passion for building innovative solutions that bring good into the world.

As I continue my journey in the world of technology, I am confident that the lessons learned and connections made during my first hackathon will serve as a solid foundation for my personal and professional growth. I encourage anyone considering participating in a hackathon to embrace the experience, step out of your comfort zone, and discover the incredible opportunities it has to offer.

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