What is a hackathon ?

Sanjay Thiyagarajan
3 min readJun 2, 2021


A Hackathon is a sprint-like competition where developers come forward with innovative ideas and work for a period of time (usually weekends). Developers happen to meet similar-minded people and team up with them for the greater cause of building an application (either a native app or a web app) which solves the problem stated by the organizer. Often the problem statements would be provided by the organizer. In few cases, participants have the freedom to choose a problem statement by themselves fitting to a theme constraint. Hackathons may seem to be difficult on the third person’s perspective. But once we start taking part, it will really be interesting and fun too. Most hackathons allow larger teams like a team of 6, but having a team of 4 is more ideal and recommended as it makes the individual contributions more effective.

Types of Hackathons

For a theme

Some hackathons focus on specific platforms like android apps, web apps, game development, multi platform mobile apps etc., These hackathons will be streamlined towards a general goal . For example, “Lights Camera Hacktion” is a hackathon which focuses mainly on cinema where hackers will be competing with their projects which fits in the respective theme.

Using a specific programming language, API or framework

These kind of hackathons are organized mainly for promoting the use of the organizer’s API or framework. Such hackathons usually come with a bigger bounty, as they are typically a hunt for commercially employable solutions.

For a cause

Few hackathons are devoted to the improvement of public service organizations, mostly government organizations. These hackathons are the ones which are so popular among the people. The solutions provided through these hackathons will be honored by the respective organizations and has a good prize pool too.

Code sprints

In some hackathons, all the participants will be working on a single application such as an operating system, programming language or content management system. Such events are often known as “code sprints”, and are especially popular for open source projects, where such events are sometimes the only opportunity for developers to meet face-to-face.

Generalized roles for a project

UI Designer

Backend programmer

Database Designer

Quality tester

Writer (Documentation)

Each member of the team should contribute to any one or two of these roles effectively.


Even though the hack is well built, it should convey its goal and progress in a crisp and clear manner. Therefore documenting the project properly is equally important to the hack. Further, there will be a pitching session at the end of each hackathon where, representatives from the participating teams will present their hacks in a short video (Mostly it should be less than or equal to 2 minutes).

Where to find

[1] https://devpost.com/hackathons

[2] https://mlh.io/seasons/2021/events

[3] https://devfolio.co/hackathons/

[4] https://hackerearth.com/challenges

(Note — Apply beginner-friendly filter if you’re a beginner. But most hackathons are beginner-friendly and you will find the workshops and tech talks extremely helpful. The most interesting part is that you’ll get all these free of cost :) )



Sanjay Thiyagarajan

Hackathon Enthusiast, Deep Learning Engineer, MLOps, Problem Solver, Innovator