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Hackathons vs Conference: Which One Works The Best for Blockchain Industry?

hackathons vs conference

One of the most widely used programming languages in the world, C++ is about 4 decades old. In comparison, Blockchain tech only arrived at the scene sometime in 2008, and is still considered comparatively ‘new’.

Developers and companies alike are still learning how to adopt Blockchain. One of the ways to disseminate information about the tech is via industry conferences which help Blockchain developers network with and learn from their peers.

But, is a Blockchain conference enough to fulfill this goal of interaction, adoption, and learning?

What is the best way to calculate the ROI from these conferences? What should the organizers do after the conference is completed?

Well the answer in our opinion is, conduct a hackathon to understand the uptake of information by developers who attended said conference, and help them utilize their newfound knowledge in practical ways to reach a defined ROI.

Let’s understand everything about hackathons vs conference, and how a Blockchain hackathon can be fruitful for your industry.

What are conferences?

Conferences are events where people with similar interests or professional backgrounds exchange ideas, share knowledge, network, and discuss industry-related topics.

Typically, conferences cover varied subjects such as technology, science, medicine, business, education, the arts, and more.

Usually, these events are organized at a large scale, attracting hundreds or even thousands of participants. They usually take place in a physical or virtual environment.

By attending these conferences, professionals can stay updated on the latest trends and innovations in their domain, find potential collaborators or partners, and broaden their network within a particular industry.

Talking about conferences, HackerEarth organized a tech conference in 2022 called Hire 1(0)1 for hiring managers and recruiters to help them build great tech teams. In this 2-day tech conference, HackerEarth invited keynote speakers who participated in the panel discussion to share their perspective. 

Read more here: Hire 10 (1): 6 Takeaways From The Biggest Tech Conference in 2022

Here’s what happens in a conference:

Anatomy of an industry conference

  • Presentations/Keynote Speeches: Speakers present their research, projects, or insights into the conference’s main theme or relevant subtopics. Presentations can be keynote speeches, panels, workshops, or poster sessions.
  • Workshops: Subject matter experts share insights on topics of their expertise—imparting industry-specific knowledge into the attendees.
  • Networking: Attendees can connect with professionals in their field.
  • Exhibitions: Many conferences include an exhibition area where companies, organizations, and research groups showcase their products, services, or projects related to the conference’s focus.

What are hackathons?

Hackathons are social coding events where developers, designers, and other tech enthusiasts come together to collaboratively work on projects, solve problems, and build innovation.

They focus on ideation, or even software development of a specific product in a niche industry. They are organized by companies who want to accomplish a specific goal such as creating brand awareness or hiring developers.

Some hackathons are standalone events, while others are part of larger conferences or tech festivals.

With the rise of virtual events and online collaboration tools, many hackathons have also been conducted in fully remote or hybrid environments. This allows participants from different geographical locations to join in the event.

Here’s what happens in hackathons vs conference:

Things that happen in hackathons vs conference

  • Building a prototype: Participants work in teams or individually to create a functioning prototype or a minimum viable product (MVP) within the given timeframe. The atmosphere is often fast-paced and intense, fostering creativity and collaboration.
  • Problem-solving projects: Participants are given a problem-solving statement. They need to address the problem through and provide the solution in the form of their project.
  • Learning and skill development: Participants learn about new technologies, programming languages, or tools. Here, they can experiment with cutting-edge technologies and apply their skills to real-world problems.
  • Networking: Participants can network with professionals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Project review: At the end of the hackathon, teams present their projects to a panel of judges. Judges evaluate the projects based on criteria such as innovation, functionality, creativity, and feasibility and announce the winning team.
  • Prizes and recognition: Many hackathons offer prizes, awards, or recognition to winning teams. These include cash prizes, access to resources, fundings or opportunities for further development.

Also, read: The Complete Guide to Organizing a Hackathon

How are conferences different from hackathons?

While conferences and hackathons appeal to be similar in nature, they are largely very different from each other in reality. Here’s what you should know about hackathons vs conference.



At conferences, people can exchange ideas, build their professional network and deliver educational presentations and workshops At hackathons, along with networking and exchanging ideas, people can collaborate on projects and build product prototypes.
The interaction at conferences is one-way—the speakers or panelists interact with the audience. The interaction at hackathons is two-way and one-on-one—participants can interact with the organizers and companies directly.
Conferences give indirect ROI such as brand partnerships and new customers leading to increased revenue. Hackathons give direct ROI such as new hires, a product prototype or innovative ideas for a specific problem-solving statement.
Conferences last for a few hours to days. For example, 2 days. Hackathons last for a few days to weeks and even months. For example, 3 months.

Why should Blockchain industries consider hackathons?

Blockchain companies who are *only* leveraging conferences to impart knowledge about the Blockchain industry need to rethink, and restructure their events. It’s time for them to consider hackathons vs conference to make their events more engaging, and ROI-driven.

Below are some reasons that will encourage you to host Blockchain hackathons (as part of your Blockchain conferences or as standalone events!).

Reasons to consider blockchain hackathons vs conference

  • Product adoption: Companies invite developers to use their product, and improve it for better using their innovative ideas. For instance, coming up with an innovative feature that can be added to the product or app.
  • User awareness: Companies organizing Blockchain hackathons can educate users about specific features of their Web3 app. They can talk about its benefits and the use cases as well.
  • Building ecosystem: By inviting developers to solve a problem, share innovative ideas or build technologies in the Blockchain industry, you are building a network of Blockchain developers.
  • Funding app ecosystem: Developers and founders developing Web3 technology can get funding for their ideas and efforts. For example, Web3athon 2023 offered $2,00,000 grants to developers building Web3 solutions.
  • Innovation: To solve a specific problem in the Blockchain industry, developers can build disruptive technology.

Also, watch: Decrypting Blockchain Innovation

Examples of Blockchain hackathons by HackerEarth with proven impact

Below we have shared virtual Blockchain hackathons hosted by different Blockchain companies to build an ecosystem of Blockchain developers, and even fund their ideas.


This hackathon, hosted by Coinbase Cloud, Polygon and Coindesk aimed at sourcing incredible ideas for Web3 innovations, and even funding them.

Buidl, a blockchain hackathon hosted by Coindesk, Polygon and Coinbase Cloud

Image Source

Impact: Received 5,821 registrations


Web3athon is an annual, multi-Blockchain, virtual hackathon hosted by Consensus with partners Alchemy University and HackerEarth to build better, scalable products that use Web3 to provide appropriate solutions. With this hackathon, 6 teams building five Blockchain ecosystems will take home $2,00.000 grants.

This hackathon, which concluded after 14 weeks, offered $80,000 in prizes, and had 17 sponsors aimed at bringing more developers to Web3 through partner grant programs.

Web3athon, a blockchain hackathon hosted by Consensus

Image Source

Impact: Received over 6,000 registrations; 378 ideas in stage 1 and 163 projects submitted in stage 2.

Also, read: 15 Hackathon Ideas for Blockchain

Why did these Blockchain hackathons work?

Blockchain hackathons vs conference work better because they are more interactive and encourage the attendees to participate in the event, which rarely happens in conferences. But there are more reasons too. Let’s discover them:

Reasons why blockchain hackathons work better than blockchain conferences

  • Innovation and creativity: Hackathons are a breeding ground for innovative and creative ideas. Blockchain technology is still relatively new, and hackathons allow participants to explore its potential applications in various industries and domains.
  • Focused environment to learn: Hackathons offer a focused environment where participants can work intensely on their projects for a limited period. This concentrated effort can lead to rapid progress and viable prototypes or proof-of-concept development.
  • Mentoring and collaborative learning: Participants at Blockchain hackathons often come from diverse backgrounds, including developers, designers, business professionals, and subject matter experts. We ensure that hackathons have AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions with experts, and participants are encouraged to connect with each other on Discord and other forums so that they can learn from each other’s experiences and understand the technology via hands-on learning.
  • Community and exposure: Many hackathons provide mentorship and support from experienced professionals in the blockchain space. These mentors can guide participants, share insights, and help refine their ideas and implementations. This exposure allows participants to showcase their projects to potential investors, collaborators, or employers.
  • Potential for real-world implementation: Some hackathons are organized in collaboration with industry partners actively looking for innovative solutions to real-world problems. This increases the chances of successful projects getting further development and implementation opportunities.
  • Open source culture: The open-source nature of many blockchain projects allows participants to build upon existing frameworks and contribute their work back to the community. This collaborative approach encourages continuous improvement and accelerates development.

How HackerEarth can help you maximize ROI from Blockchain hackathons?

Rootstock and Web3athon used HackerEarth’s Hackathon platform to host their virtual hackathon. This helped them manage everything end-to-end—from creating a landing page for their hackathon to promoting each hackathon to HackerEarth’s community of 7.8 million developers across the globe.

Just like them, HackerEarth can help you organize your next Blockchain hackathon as part of your industry conference or as a standalone event. Our team of experts can help you with:

  • Creating a unique problem statement and theme for the event
  • Managing participation and promotion activities
  • Assessing and evaluating entries and submissions
  • Feedback, mentoring, and learning activities at the event
  • Creating unique IP (Intellectual Property) that can be used by your company to build actual products with real-world implications
  • Helping developers understand your Blockchain tech or product and encourage adoption

Ready to create your next Blockchain hackathon? Book a demo with HackerEarth.

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