How to Find the Best Web3 Hackathon Ideas?

Hackathons are a great way to experiment with a new technology, build future unicorns, and meet fantastic people. Here are some tips on what you could build.

Massimo Lomuscio
Published in
5 min readSep 7, 2022


How does a hackathon work?

  • Protocols set up prize pools for various categories.
    Here are the ones from EthOnline:
  • You include protocol X and something that does “what the bounty wants” in your product
  • You have the full hackathon to BUIDL it
  • At the end your project is evaluated based on how original and functional it currently is, and its future potential.
    Both the hackathon official team (EthGlobal, the Ethereum Foundation, …) and the protocol teams will look at projects that make sense to continue being built on and can be turned into a legit dApp, or at innovative demos of their tech.

Hack the hackathon… Some tips

Use the devrel teams

Check in early with the protocol devrel peep, and get them to support you in building out a solution. Not only does this help you build, but they will genuinely tell you what they think is a good prize winning contribution and what is not. The devrel teams exist for this purpose: use it!

Be open minded, ready to pivot after suggestions/if an opportunity arises

Use the power of blockchain

Protocols can be combined! Include as many protocols as you can into your solution to maximise the number of bounties you can receive. For example, you can deploy on a specific chain/L2 (let’s say Optimism), build on top of your desired protocol (Superfluid, Lens?), then allow a login/access with a specific wallet (WalletConnect, …) and then make it crosschain with Connext.

Keep it simple

Better to have a fully working MPV than the design of a super complex but intangible dApp.

Try to present a fully working frontend (it can be hacky in terms of code quality and UI, but it needs to get the job done), a fully working backend integration if you have one, and a fully working solidity smart contract if part of your solution.

Leverage existing code

Oftentimes protocols will have starter kits or other forkable code repositories that you can use to kickstart development. Use these to your advantage to save time and effort when you start building. Referencing other open source projects that have built on these protocols is another great way to familiarize find inspiration.

What’s your objective?

Establish early what you want to get out of the hackathon. Learn how to code on a specific stack, set the basis for a new project that you want to run in the long term, or earn some cash. This will help you identify your priorities.

Finding a team

There usually are “speed dating” or “team forming” moments at the beginning, sometimes as calls, other times just in dedicated discord channels (for EthGlobal they unlock after you’ve staked your eth and got accepted)

It’s better teaming up with people who’ve done one or two hackathons before, and that share a mix of skills across the whole stack.

Be sure you are all excited about the vision of what you want to build, as it will be a few intense days to work on.

Photo By Annie Spratt

So what to build? How to find ideas for dApps at the hackathon

Narrative-led ideas

Look on Twitter and Discord for the latest narratives, or clear pain points in the industry. Here are some examples:

  • dApps that preserve/increase privacy. At ETHNY, talented devs built a crosschain TornadoCash
  • New tools that use zero-knowledge proofs to demonstrate onchain identity. What about a privacy-first streaming dapp with Superfluid?
  • Crosschain apps — apps that interact in a multichain world in a secure way. You can for example fork an existing protocol and upgrade with crosschain functionalities. Check the starter kit that Connext has prepared
  • Financialization of NFTs: use [some type of NFT] as a collateral to do [something else]. Borrow, rent, access to something new.

Evergreen topics

  • Aggregators: combine parallel projects for increased efficiency
  • GameFi. Invent a basic dynamic where players need to interact onchain to compete against each other, and make it fun.
  • Sustainability/positive impact. This dev built a gamification tool for Carbon Credits that are used to grow a plant in the metaverse
  • Identity: new tools to manage self-owned, independent identity that enables trusted data exchange
  • Public goods: projects that benefit the wide community tend to perform well. Lower the barrier of entry (with a tool to subsidize fees, reduce complexity)
  • DAO Tools: DAOs are already powerhouses, build tools that simplify the way they manage their treasury, governance (crosschain governance, anyone?) and members
  • Research-backed applications: any experiment to apply theoretical research (ex: verkle trees, danksharding, …). This is more complex but always puts you under the spotlight.

Fork to a new chain/L2

Any domain needs a DEX, a Lending Protocol and other primitives. You can fork other protocols and deploy them to a new chain.

Find more inspiration

Check the winners of previous hackathons! Here are the ones from EthMexico

And the ones rewarded by Connext at EthAmsterdam

Post hackathon

Have you built something useful? Something that gets you excited? Don’t stop now!

All of the biggest protocols offer long term grants for people that want to keep developing after a hackathon.
A hackathon is useful to create a basic version of your product, but if you want to create a multibillion project the only way to do it is… Keep building!

Connext will support you in your crosschain aspirations by helping you on the technical side and also by introducing you to investors, other partners, and our big community (your first users!). Not to mention, we love featuring projects that build with us — this can be an easy way to bootstrap visibility and drive initial user engagement for grassroots projects!

If you are interested in building the future of dApps — xApps — have a look at our docs, we are ready to support you

About EthGlobal

ETHGlobal helps run hackathons all over the world. Our goal is to be the best on-ramp to the global Ethereum community. Our work is supported by the Ethereum Foundation, and the many sponsors who make our events possible.

Website | Guides | Twitter | Discord | Blog

About Connext

Connext is a network for fast, trustless communication between chains and rollups. It is the only interoperability system of its type that does this cheaply and quickly without introducing any new trust assumptions. Connext is aimed at developers who are looking to build bridges and other natively cross-chain applications. To date, over $1.5b in transactions have crossed the network.

Website | Documentation | Twitter | Discord | Github | Blog



Massimo Lomuscio

A decentralized mind.

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