Best Hackathons for Web3 Developers 
Every year, there are dozens of hackathons hosted by a variety of companies in the Web3 space. For beginners and veterans in Web3, hackathons are a terrific way to learn blockchain development, turn hackathon ideas into a reality, manage blockchain projects in hybrid work environments, use web3 GitHub repositories, and more.
Here are some reasons why you should consider participating in a Web3 hackathon, and four of the greatest hackathons in the industry from this year.
What is a hackathon?
A web3 hackathon is an event hosted by blockchain protocols, web3 dApps, companies, or web3 hackathon event producers to give web3 developers resources, an environment, incentives, and direction for creating functional minimum viable products (MVPs).
Web3 hackathons typically offer incentives for blockchain projects centered on multiple different tracks such as niche (e.g. NFTs, DeFi, Metaverse), region (e.g. US, Africa, Europe), or technology (e.g. a new library, protocol, or dApp).
Project submissions are commonly split up into multiple tracks, each focusing on a different use-case of blockchain. Aside from competing for track-specific rewards, hackathons may also feature bounties–rewards for projects that complete specific challenges designed by sponsors.
Traditionally, hackathons take place over a week or weekend of hacking with a team of developers and designers. However, hackathons in web3 have also expanded to include month-long schedules to give teams ample time to learn new technologies, test their dApps, and launch functional MVPs.
Traditionally, hackathons take place in-person hacking, however, due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of remote work, many hackathons also allow devs to participate online while collaborating with teams through Discord, Telegram, and other web3 team communication platforms.
At the end of the hackathon schedule, all the submitted projects will be judged by a panel of judges, typically web3 influencers, blockchain investors, and dApp founders, to award the best hackathon projects with cash prizes, grants, and exposure to big industry names.
Hackathons often offer plenty of developer support, guiding contestants of all backgrounds to learn new technologies and grow from the hacking experience.
Web3 Hackathon Benefits
Hackathons are an amazing opportunity for new and existing web3 developers to turn ideas into an actual product, and potentially a venture-backed Web3 startup.
Throughout the process developers get to:
- Find a community of like-minded individuals, all highly motivated to create in Web3
- Learn how to build products using innovative technology and primitives
- Attend educational events and hear talks from industry leaders
- Find inspiration alongside cutting-edge blockchain project ideas
- Win financial prizes for your accomplishments
- Meet web3 investors, analysts, and fund managers
- Network with builders and investors
Above all, hackathons give developers an opportunity to put into practice the skills they've learned completing online web3 developer courses, scouring countless blockchain newsletters, and learning through web3 tutorials to put their practice into action.
With so many protocols using hackathons as a crypto marketing strategy and new organizations receiving funding to manage hackathon events throughout the entire year, getting started as a web3 developer at hackathons has never been easier.
Best Web3 Hackathons
The best hackathons are determined by the quality of developers that attend, the quality of judges and investors in attendance, the quality of talks and side events, the prize pool, the resources provided to developers, and the technologies that builders are incentivized to use.
Because there are so many hackathons and a limited amount of time to build applications, web3 developers must decide which hackathon is the best event to attend.
In this article we will explore four hackathons:
- ETHDenver BUIDLathon
- Solana Summer Camp
- Polygon BUIDLit
Update 2023: While these hackathons listed below have passed, they happen each year, so you can start planning to attend them in the future. Check back again soon for an updated version!
1. ETHDenver BUIDLathon
ETHDenver’s BUIDLathon hackathon occurred from February 11th to 20th in 2022 where contestants participated both in-person and virtually, competing for separate rewards pools. Winners took part in over $1 million in bounties and prizes, and $2 million in investments.
Hackathon Project Categories
Here are the focus tracks from the ETHDenver BUIDLathon in 2022:
- Coloradojam - Use Web3 to improve public infrastructure in Colorado
- DAOs & Communities - Improve the technical capabilities of DAOs
- DeFi - Transform TradFi with decentralized tech
- Impact - Solve problems that promote social good
- Mobile - Any service designed mobile-first.
- NFTs - Anything related to Non-Fungible Tokens
- Gaming & Metaverse - Building for gaming or the Metaverse
- Infrastructure & Scalability - Improve the base usability and scalability of protocols
- Space & the New Frontier - Anything you can imagine that is outside of the other tracks
Regardless of what you’re building at ETHDenver, Web3 developers can create a free account with Alchemy’s blockchain developer platform to deploy apps on Ethereum’s mainnet, testnets, and most popular layer 2s. With the most robust free tier in the web3 infrastructure space, Alchemy can help hackathon teams build, test, debug, and scale incredible new dApps.
For each track, the top selected projects each win an equal share of a $15,000 prize pool. Additionally, a host of celebrity judges selects their “celebrity favorites,” awarding each project with $1,000. Rounding out the prizes was $246,000 in sponsor bounties.
2022’s BUIDLathon featured celebrity judges including the Ethereum Founder, Vitalik Buterin, himself amongst other Ethereum and web3 influencers.
Here is a short list and description of some of the most promising in-person winners from ETHDenver’s BUIDLathon in 2022:
- ZKmaps - prove your physical location without revealing specific locations
- DustSweeper - swap small amounts of ERC-20 tokens (dust) for ETH
- Deus Ex Securitas - secure smart contracts using machine learning
Here is a short list and overview of some of the most exciting winning projects from ETHDenver’s online BUIDLathon in 2022:
- Moloch Rises - blockchain game where players fight robots and upgrade their NFTs
- 22222.World - NFT membership that integrates with myColoradoID and local businesses
- DoerDAO - DAO tooling for growing and managing decentralized communities
Although this year’s ETHDenver BUIDLathon has concluded, the event is a shining example of the value new web3 developers can get by participating in hackathons. Participants of the BUIDLathon were supported to create for any desired Ethereum application while connecting with other developers at the largest annual ETH event.
2. Solana Summer Camp
Solana’s newest hackathon, Solana Summer Camp, opened registration on July 11th, and the hackathon will continue until August 16th. For the lucky winning projects, Solana has brought together over $5 million in prizes and seed funding.
Solana Summer Camp is accepting builders working from anywhere in the world. Additional in-person workshops, expert panels, and mentorship opportunities can be found in cities including San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago, London, Berlin, Singapore, Lisbon, Belgrade, and Amsterdam.
Hackathon Project Categories
Here are the focus tracks for the Solana Summer Camp in 2022:
- Mobile - Build mobile-first projects using the Solana Mobile Stack
- Payments - Help globalize payments made with crypto
- DeFi - Design decentralized financial applications for users
- Web3 - Create the new generation of web applications
- Gaming - Build blockchain-based games, NFTs, and opportunities for players to participate in player-to-player markets
- DAOs - Create new decentralized autonomous organizations
Each track has its own host of prize-winners with rewards ranging from $50,000 for 1st place to $10,000 for 5th place projects.
Outside of the tracks, the grand champion will be rewarded $65,000 and a chance to present their project at the 2nd annual Solana Breakpoint event in Lisbon, Portugal that is happening the first week of November in 2022.
Lastly, there is a $30,000 university award, $10,000 community choice award, and $10,000 climate award.
Summer Camp is an opportunity to start developing on Solana and learn about their innovative blockchain technology through hands-on experience. Last year’s hackathon, Solana Season, saw over 13,000 participants with over 350+ project submissions. After a year of growth and with over five times the prize pool, 2022’s Solana Summer Camp is not a hackathon to miss.
Solana Hackathon RPC Provider
Alchemy is a Solana RPC partner for the Solana Summer Camp hackathon, giving web3 developers the most performant free Solana RPC infrastructure and Solana developer tooling available. Sign up to start building on Solana with Alchemy.
3. Polygon BUIDLit
Running from June 15th to August 25th of 2022, Polygon BUIDLit is an ongoing hackathon centered on building with Polygon’s scalable technology. Global and completely remote, you can register for BUIDLit until August 1st and begin hacking immediately for a chance at the $500,000 prize pool.
Hackathon Project Categories
Here are the focus areas for the Polygon BUIDLit in 2022:
- DeFi - Design decentralized financial (DeFi) applications for free users
- NFTs - Build Polygon NFT dApps
- Tooling/Infrastructure - create developer tooling and infra for Polygon’s ecosystem
- Gaming - develop on-chain Polygon games
- Web3 Integration in Web2 - bring your favorite Web2 product to Web3 on Polygon
- Public Goods - develop a Polygon dApp with a social impact
- Everything ZK - build Web3 dApps using Polygon’s Zero Knowledge tools
Each track’s top 3 projects will be rewarded $12,000, $8,000, and $5,000 in order with one exception: the top 3 projects in the Everything ZK track will see $15,000, $10,000, and $5,000 hackathon prizes while competing for a part of the $5,000 track pool.
The top three projects overall will receive $50,000, $30,000, and $15,000. Finally, the 50 best projects will win a share of a $50,000 prize pool. There is also a 7-day “designathon” for UI/UX designers to win a part of a separate $50,000 prize pool.
While the Polygon BUIDLit hackathon’s opening events have already taken place, we are deep in the month of building. BUIDLit offers an opportunity to learn Polygon development with one of Ethereum’s primary scaling solutions. BUIDLers can experience the scalability of Polygon, without losing the network effects of Ethereum’s already massive ecosystem.
Polygon RPC Provider
If you’re looking to submit a project to the Polygon BUIDLit hackathon, build on the best Polygon developer platform, and the industry’s best free tier.
Alchemy’s suite of developer tools, including Mumbai testnet support, a Mumbai faucet for getting test MATIC, infinite scalability, and reliability means your development team can move fast, avoid disruptions, and start scaling as soon as you deploy to mainnet.
Organization ETHGlobal has had a profound effect on the international Ethereum community, hosting hackathons and summits, facilitating project growth, and fundraising for growing companies. Their largest annual hackathon, ETHOnline, will take place September 2nd to September 28th of 2022.
Detailed information about the hackathon and its prizes are still yet to be released, but on their blog you can find the details of last year’s event and all of its finalists. ETHOnline 2022 saw over 1,000 participants from all over the world submit 218 projects for a chance at $350,000 in prizes.
Project finalists include, but are not limited to, NFT projects, DeFi protocols, and security solutions. ETHOnline partnered with many services such as Skale, Alchemy, Polygon, and Chainlink to offer numerous workshops and talks. This year’s hackathon is yet another promising chance to become involved in developing the Ethereum ecosystem, with mentorship of industry-leading companies.
Ethereum RPC Provider
Alchemy is the industry leader in Ethereum node infrastructure support and Ethereum APIs. To build dApps that are reliable, scalable, and high performance on Ethereum and Ethereum testnets for the ETHOnline hackathon, create a free Alchemy account.
Web3 Hackathon Organizers
The above hackathons are by no means a comprehensive list of every hackathon out there. Here are some of the industry’s biggest hackathon event organizers where you can find local hackathons and hackathons organized by specific dApps and alternative protocols.
- ETHGlobal - Other than ETHOnline, ETHGlobal hosts hackathons regularly. There are eight more this year in locations all around the world.
- Gitcoin Hackathons - Gitcoin provides grants to web3 developers, and there are two hackathons ongoing, and two more upcoming. These Gitcoin hackathons have focuses such as climate support and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- DoraHacks - a recently funded by FTX, DoraHack has three ongoing hackathons, and two more are scheduled for later in 2022
- Encode - their Chainlink hackathon is running until September, with a Starknet hackathon scheduled to launch in a week.
- Hashnode Hackathons: A Hashnode hackathon is running until the end of July, and Hashnode hosts at least one event every couple months.
Between these organizations, there is nearly always a hackathon running. If you are looking to get into Web3 development in any capacity, consider hackathons one of the best places to start! Gain development experience while working alongside like-minded creative, engineering individuals. There is no time to build like the present.