Top tips for making your Call for Code submission stand out
What you need to know before submitting your entry
You and your team have answered the Call for Code, and you’re almost ready to submit your solution. With the deadline for the 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge rapidly approaching (it’s Saturday, July 31 at 11:59 pm PDT), I have a few last-minute tips and a checklist for you to review before you submit your entry.
Watch the replay of our July 12, 2021 session on tips for a successful submission:
You can also ask questions at any time on the Call for Code Community Slack channel.
Tip No. 1: Clearly map your solution to a real problem
Remember, the central goal of this year’s Call for Code Global Challenge is to find high-quality, sustainable solutions to help address climate change. Make sure your entry describes the real world problem that your application solves in one of the three global focus areas of this year’s competition. Judges will consider your solution’s effectiveness at addressing a high-priority climate change area, so make it very clear what that problem is, why your technological solution is an effective and appropriate remedy, and, of course, please ensure that it doesn’t end up adding to the problem!
Tip No. 2: Make it clear how your solution is unique
You have limited time to make your submission stand out, so think about what makes it distinctive. As part of the judging criteria, your submission will be scored based on your creativity and innovation in creating a unique approach to solving a climate change problem. Assume that other teams are working on a similar solution to fit within the competition focus areas. Be clear on how you differentiate your work from others.
One way to do this is to be very specific. Don’t pitch your work as something all-encompassing and generic, like “A Platform for Disaster Response.” Instead, focus on how well you are solving the specific problem that you identified in a complete, creative, effective, and usable manner.
Tip No. 3: Create an engaging 3-minute video pitch
The most powerful way to get your idea across quickly and make an impression on the different types of judges — the technical judges, the subject matter expert judges, the eminent judges — is to submit a compelling video. Invest time in putting together your 3-minute video so that it tells the story of your submission.
Here is a recommended format for the elements that you should include in a great video submission:
- 45 seconds: What is the problem that you are trying to solve? How have you solved it?
- 90 seconds: Show a demo of your working code and the user flow.
- 45 seconds: Provide a vision for where you would like to go with the project or how your solution can make an impact if it is deployed.
Examples of great videos from past submissions:
Leave the deep-dive information and full implementation details in your 500-word solution description, source code repository, and solution roadmap, but use the video to summarize your project in a way that all audiences can understand.
Tip No. 4: Thoroughly document your solution and code repository
And speaking of that deep-dive material, what ties your submission together is a consistent story across your entire submission entry. That includes a quality demonstration in your video, a clear roadmap describing the vision for what you’ve built, and a well-documented source code repository, which can contain additional diagrams and installation steps.
One of the best ways to show how complete and effective your project is, and how it can be explored by the judges in a hands-on manner, is to create a great README file in your source code repository. A quick web search can help you find a lot of tips. Look for ” readme best practices” to find a few tutorials. You can also think about embedding your video or other visuals that illustrate the application in depth.
A submission checklist
Carefully review this list before you submit your final application. It is unlikely that the judges will be able to contact you directly to point out permissions issues or ask follow-up questions.
Gather team information
- Designate a single leader who will fill out the submission form on behalf of the team.
- Confirm that this is the one project that everyone has agreed to submit.
- Collect teammate names, emails, organization, and country. Ensure that any email addresses shared are monitored for judging notifications.
- Ensure that everyone on the team has reviewed and accepted the Participation Agreement. To accept the Participation Agreement, all participants (including the submitter) must have joined the Call for Code Community. To join the Call for Code Community, log in with your existing IBM Cloud Account or create a new one.
Prepare your high-level pitch and solution detail
Review the competition scope.
- Review the competition judging criteria.
- Review the competition rules.
- Clearly map your solution to a real problem.
Create your 3-minute video pitch
- Briefly describe the problem you are trying to solve and how your solution is unique.
- Make sure you show a demo of your working code and user flow.
- Provide a vision for next steps and how your solution can make an impact when it is deployed.
- Upload your video (for example, on YouTube) and set it as public or include the password with the link.
Configure your source code repository
- Thoroughly document your solution and code repository in its README, or similar files.
- Don’t publish credentials. Provide them with the submission form or provide setup steps for the judges.
- If you have more than one repo, point to a single parent organization for all of them rather than submitting a comma-separated list of links.
- Double-check your permissions and make sure that your repository is public so that each of the judges can access it. Permissions errors can prevent the judges from fully evaluating your code.
- You cannot add new features to the repository branch you submit after the submission deadline. However, you may continue development in a separate branch or fork (preferred) to continue your momentum outside of the judging process.
Complete your submission form
- When your team has reviewed all of the above and is ready, the team leader should complete all fields in the submission form.
- Upload your solution roadmap in any format you wish that describes your project maturity at submission time as well as your future plans for further development.
- List the IBM Cloud services you used. No need to list other supporting services (for example, ArcGIS, TravisCI, or data.gov).
- If you need to update or replace your submission, please create a new submission. The latest submission from the submitter email address before the July 31, 2021, deadline will be considered the final entry.
Other helpful resources
- How mentors can benefit you and where to find them
- Check out our solution starter kits, on-demand demos, and other technical resources: