How to Ace an App Competition

On December 30, 2011 by apps4africa

As we close out 2011 and the first half of the Apps4Africa competition, we thought we’d share some tips for those of you planning to enter the South Africa competition next year. This can also serve as advice for those of you who’ve already participated and who we hope will participate in other competitions in the future.

Our advice for people looking to do everything they can to excel in an app competition like our own…

1. Read the rules.

This competition is called “Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge” any app submitted that failed to even attempt to address climate change and adaptation was immediately disqualified.

2. Solve a tough problem.

A lot of apps were entered that had similar descriptions. This in and of itself is not a problem, it’s inevitable given that people approach problems from the same perspective or spot the same needs. However, it never hurts to stand out by attempting to solve a problem that fewer people are likely to think of or event attempt to solve.

One way to do this is to look at the systems put in place by governments or NGOs in your country, and improve upon them with services that circumvent or augment them. Not everything has to be started from scratch.

3. Build something or do something.

Everyone has opinions on how to fix things, few people ever do anything about it. Ideas are great, we encourage them, but this competition is called Apps4Africa for a reason. To win without a software application just means you need to have a very detailed, well thought out plan of action. I’m not going to lie, it’s a long shot but exceptional ideas are still exceptional ideas. But what’s better than a plan of action? Action.

We look favorably upon the participants who take action.

4. Pay close attention to detail on your entry form.

Misspelling your email address or website can be disastrous. If we need to get in touch with you to ask questions, or we need to evaluate your web application, we can’t do it.

5. Study previous winning projects.

While it would be a mistake to copy verbatim someone else’s idea, simply looking at the applicants who’ve succeeded in the past may spark ideas on how to approach your particular project. Draw inspiration from them.

6. Ask an Expert.

Say you don’t know a lot about the subject matter (in this case climate change). Perhaps you have a professor or family member who has a better understanding. If not, you can ask us to pair you with a mentor. We do our best to do this anyways but making the request ensures that you’re on our minds when going through the matching process.

7. Talk to people.

If you aren’t aware of any climate change problems, get out and talk to the people around you who might experience them daily. For instance, speak to the local NGOs staff who respond to flooding or drought and ask them what tool or app would make their jobs easier.

8. Lose gracefully.

Everyone likes to win, no one likes to use. Pretty much the whole world will agree with that statement. That said, we all lose something at sometime. It’s not the end of the world and it certainly doesn’t mean your talents and ideas aren’t valid. Most importantly, keep pursuing your project! If you’re solving a real problem, that problem hasn’t gone away because of this competition. There are always future opportunities.

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