The Ultimate List of Ideas for Your Next Hackathon

Hackathons are a ton of fun. If you’ve never participated in one: a hackathon is an event where programmers build something in a short period (often in 24 hours). Often hackathons include a prize for the winning teams.

Hackathons are great because they allow you to improve your coding skills, build new things, and try new technologies.

One of the hardest parts about participating in a hackathon is coming up with an idea to work on, so in this article, I will give you some fun ideas for your next hackathon.

Popular Hackathons

First, I want to highlight a few popular hackathons, so you can have an idea of what events to sign up for. First up is Hacktoberfest. Hacktoberfest is all about open-source. Put on by DigitalOcean, participants contribute to open-source projects for a chance to win swag.

HackMIT is another popular hackathon. It is a weekend-long event where students work on new software or hardware projects. Beware, however, because this event is not known as beginner-friendly!

If you want to participate in big hackathons with many people, you can register for MHacks, LAHacks, or HackTech.

Are you interested in startups? Consider registering for TechCrunch Disrupt. TechCrunch Disrupt is a series of events for startups, but it also includes a 24-hour hackathon.

If you are a beginner and are looking for a hackathon targeted at people with less experience, you can check out HackIllinois, BoilerMake, BitCamp, HackTX, or Hack@Brown.

These are some of the most well-known hackathons, but far from an exhaustive list.

Now, let’s get to some hackathon ideas!

General Hackathon Ideas

  1. Create an app that gives you outfit suggestions based on the weather. Use the weather API from our list of fun APIs to get the weather for your area and suggest appropriate outfits for the day.
  2. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with all the people in your life. For your next hackathon, you could build a bot that programmatically sends a nice text message to your friend and family once a month to let them know you are thinking about them.
  3. Build a virtual assistant for yourself. Siri is OK, but there are many tasks specific to you Siri can’t help with. Brainstorm a list of them, then create an assistant that can automate those tasks.
  4. Speaking of automating your life, have you experimented with robotic process automation? If your work involves anything repetitive using your computer, try spending your next hackathon using robocorp’s free open-source RPA software to automate repetitive tasks.
  5. Another fun bot idea is to build a chatbot that can text your friends and family. See how long your bot can keep the conversation going without them realizing they are talking to a robot!
  6. Build something using AR.Try using this API for your project.
  7. Make a program that monitors places like Reddit and social networks for new music and TV shows. When a new song or TV starts to become popular, it should send you an SMS message.
  8. Code a program that calls you every week and reads you a quote from the Simpsons.
  9. Forgetting someone’s birthday is the worst feeling. Code an app that automatically sends a text message to your friends and family on their birthday, so you never forget one again.
  10. I did a Twitch stream with my coworker Dwane Hemmings where we built a web component together. If you haven’t created one yet, you should try making one. I challenge you to take one of the ideas on here and turn them into a web component.

Fintech & EdtechHackathon Ideas

  1. With cryptocurrency prices at all-time highs, this is the perfect opportunity to build a bot to trade cryptocurrencies.
  2. While we are talking about cryptocurrency, another fun project would be to create a coin for yourself. Some people think personal coins are the future: so why not give it a shot?
  3. Mining for cryptocurrency can be profitable, but it uses a lot of energy. So why not use a raspberry pi to build a solar-powered cryptocurrency mining machine?
  4. Did you know a programmer built a bot that made 2.4 million dollars in 28 minutes by reading a tweet and buying stock options based on the news it contained? Well, it happened, and you could be next! At your next fintech hackathon, why not take your shot at building a bot that trades stocks off of tweets?
  5. I’ve had problems in the past with financial advisors sending sensitive data over email, which is not secure. Program a Gmail plugin that warns you when it looks like you might be sending sensitive data over email.
  6. Taxes aren’t fun for anyone. Try building a program that can do your taxes without any user input. It could do that by scraping your bank data and monitoring your text and phone calls by finding information like if you moved or got married (which would affect your taxes).
  7. Another project is to build a video conferencing app for teaching with graphs. You can use Vonage’s video API to set up video conferencing quickly and then use a library like Plotly to add graphs to it. The teacher should be able to input data and create charts in real-time.
  8. Need an extra challenge? Try adding a facial recognition feature to your video conferencing app.
  9. You could also build a video conferencing app that replaces parent-teacher conferences with features like pulling up a student report card with one click.
  10. As someone who just wrote my second book on coding, I can tell you there isn’t a lot of software for people writing coding books. I hope someone writes a program like Google Docs or Microsoft Word, which allows you to easily output your document to an ebook with properly formatted code.
  11. I’m always highlighting notes on my Kindle, but I rarely review them. I would love it if someone created a website that texted me highlighted passages from books I’ve read.

Hackathon Ideas for New Coders

  1. Christmas is coming up, so you know what that means! It is time to start reminding people what presents you want. I challenge you to build an app that lets you enter the presents you want, and the email addresses of your friends and family, and emails them every x number of days and remind them not to forget to buy you lots of presents (and send them the list of what you want.) This year, no one will forget to buy you gifts!
  2. Hackathons are not always about building something new. Sometimes, it is just about building your skills. Try making the classic game TikTokToe as a website, complete with a nice-looking UI.
  3. Not interested in TikTokToe? Build a website that lets you play poker with friends instead.
  4. Another fun project for new coders is to build an API. Look for a website that has great information but no free API. Please make sure the website’s terms of service allow it and then scrape the website. Put their data in a database and then build an API around it. You can contact the webmaster after and give them the code for free.
  5. As a new coder, staying consistent practicing can be challenging. Build a program that sends an SMS message to your phone every day to remind you to code that day. You can use our SMS API to send an SMS message easily.
  6. Build a website that keeps track of every coding book and course you’ve read and taken and allows you to add new ones easily.
  7. Create a website that lets you pick a song. It then plays that song using YouTube’s API and creates a custom music video by scraping images from the web.
  8. Make a program that can scrape the lyrics for any song and then create a word cloud from the lyrics.
  9. Getting your first job as a programmer can be challenging, but a portfolio can help. If you don’t have a portfolio showing off your top projects, your next hackathon is an excellent opportunity to build one.
  10. Build a programming language. It might not be the next Python, but give it as many features as you can. Creating a programming language will help make you a better programmer.

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to improve your programming skills or socialize with new people, hackathons are a lot of fun.

I hope this article inspired you to try one out if you never have or participate in one soon if it’s been a while.

One of the challenges many programmers face is coming up with new project ideas: whether for a side or hackathon project, so I hope this article gave you some inspiration.

Whether you are building a machine learning project or one from this list, I wish you the best of luck.

If you end up using any of the ideas from this article, let us know!

You can reach us on Twitter or on our Slack channel.

Best of luck at your next hackathon!



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Vonage Dev

Vonage Dev

Developer content from the team at Vonage, including posts on our Java, Node.js, Python, DotNet, Ruby and Go SDKs