What is a hackathon? ​​Guide​​ to Web3 hackathons in 2024

April 17, 2024


Written by: Algorand Foundation

Hackathons are major events in Web3. They're gatherings where developers, programmers, designers, and creative problem solvers come together to build real-world solutions. They're not just about showing off your skills; they're about getting noticed. These events attract top-tier venture capitalists and partners scouting out the next big thing. Hackathons are where innovations can grab the attention of those who can help turn your ideas into reality.

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is your entry point as a Web3 builder. It’s where you can take your idea to a deployed dApp and then to a scalable business. In just a matter of weeks, you can turn your vision into a startup reality with the support of expert mentors and access to cutting-edge technology. These events aren’t just about coding; they’re a nurturing ground for your ideas to flourish. During a hackathon, you have the opportunity to present your innovative idea to influential stakeholders such as venture capitalists, partners, and potential customers. Hackathons also typically offer generous prizes for the top projects.

Sign up for Algorand Global Hackathon: Change the Game.

Who are hackathons for?

Hackathons are for anyone with a passion for innovation and a desire to shape the digital landscape of tomorrow. Whether you're a developer or not, these events offer a platform for anyone to create consumer-friendly applications and drive real-world solutions. Hackathons are an open invitation to everyone with skills in business development, product management, marketing, and more

Of course, developers are an indispensable part of hackathons, and expertise in blockchain, smart contracts, and the technical side of Web3 is essential. Hackathons welcome Web2 and Web3 developers to compete and take part in building decentralized, secure, and scalable applications.  

Why participate in hackathons?

Hackathons are highly motivating environments where you can immerse yourself in Web3 and innovation. One of the standout opportunities hackathons offer is the chance to get your ideas in front of influential judges, VCs, and potential customers. It’s a chance to receive valuable feedback and meet those who can open doors to exciting possibilities for your project. 

Hackathons are not just about competition; they are also about collaboration and learning. Hackathons allow you to sharpen your skills, explore new technologies, and learn from your peers. You might come in as a business development expert and leave with a newfound love for Python development.

Hackathons provide access to expert mentors who can guide you and help you build a successful and impactful project. Moreover, you’ll be working alongside passionate professionals who, like you, are driven by the ambition to create in the Web3 space. It's an incredible networking opportunity that can lead to lasting connections and partnerships.

Participating in hackathons can also have a significant impact on your career. A strong performance can catch the eye of companies actively seeking top talent in Web3 development, potentially landing you a job. Hackathons showcase your ability to work under pressure, collaborate, and innovate—qualities that employers value highly. It shows that you can transform ideas into functional projects.

Last but not least, hackathons are fun. Whether you're a seasoned blockchain developer or just starting your journey into Web3, hackathons are an unforgettable experience where you can have fun while pushing the boundaries of what's possible with a diverse group of talented individuals. The connections you forge during these events can lead to lifelong collaborations.

What is the difference between a Web2 and Web3 hackathon?

The distinction between Web2 and Web3 hackathons lies in the technology stack. Web2 hackathons are rooted in the traditional web. They often focus on building web applications using well-established technologies. Web3 hackathons are all about embracing the cutting-edge world of decentralized technologies, such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. It's not just about the technology. The Web3 ethos is guided by decentralization, security, and transparency.

What are Web3 hackathon themes?  

Hackathons often revolve around specific themes, providing participants with focused challenges and opportunities to create impactful solutions. Here are some Web3 hackathon themes to inspire ideas: 

DeFi: Break the barriers of traditional finance. Rewrite the rules of money and build an inclusive future for all. 

Consumer: Create a unified, transparent, and empowered user experience by developing consumer dapps, real-world assets (RWAs), and next-generation NFT utility. 

Interoperability: Communication is a superpower. Make blockchains connect, collaborate, and tackle the world’s challenges together.

Sign up for Algorand Global Hackathon: Change the Game.

How to choose a hackathon

Choosing the right hackathon can determine your experience, growth, and impact.

Define your objectives

Before diving in, get clear on what you aim to achieve. Are you looking to learn a new skill, tackle a specific challenge, or get your idea in front of VCs? Your objective is your North Star in choosing the right hackathon. 

Consider your skillset

Take a good look at your skills and interests. Whether you're a coder, designer, or project manager, choose a hackathon that aligns with your strengths and the areas of Web3 that interest you. 

Think about the time commitment

Some hackathons are weekend-long marathons, while others might last several weeks. Take a look at your calendar and weigh it up with your other commitments. Find a hackathon that fits with your schedule, allowing you to contribute your best. 

Assess networking potential

Hackathons offer unique opportunities to connect with industry professionals and potential collaborators. Do your homework—research the hackathon's lineup of speakers, mentors, and judges.

Review the rewards

Hackathons often offer prizes, recognition, or even the chance to pitch your project to investors. If tangible rewards or visibility are important to you, research the hackathon's prizes and judging criteria to assess the potential returns on your investment of time and resources.

What happens at a hackathon?

Registration: Secure your spot by signing up for the hackathon. Registration typically opens about a month prior to the event.

Team formation: Decide whether to collaborate with others or tackle the challenge solo. Hackathons often offer team matchmaking sessions for registrants.  

Getting warmed up: Take advantage of available resources in the lead-up to a hackathon, like tooling, workshops, and developer bootcamps.

The build: Kickstart the creative process by brainstorming ideas, crafting prototypes, and converting your concepts into tangible solutions.

Time to pitch: Unveil your project for judges and fellow participants. Explain its purpose, how it works, and its potential for user adoption.  

Judging and prizes: A panel of judges evaluates the projects based on various criteria.  Prizes are awarded to a strong experienced team and the most innovative and well-executed solutions.

What to do next

Sign up for Algorand Global Hackathon: Change the Game 

Sign up is now open for Change the Game, an Algorand hackathon for developers and entrepreneurs looking to gain deep technical knowledge and experience in building functioning solutions that expand the Algorand ecosystem. These hackathons offer an ideal platform for those who want to launch a blockchain startup to demonstrate their capabilities while competing with other top-tier developers. 


Boost your skills with Algorand Developer Bootcamps

Beginner and intermediate bootcamps are the best way to prepare yourself for the hackathon. Algorand offers Python and TypeScript bootcamps in English and Spanish, with beginner and intermediate levels available.

Sign up for developer bootcamps.  

Check out the Developer Portal

The Developer Portal is packed with blockchain learning resources and upcoming developer events. Hackathon participants can also request office hours with Algorand developers for support on their project. 

Find out how to become a blockchain developer.