top of page


Thanks for submitting!

  • noahchonlee

How We Brought Democracy to Hackathons

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

viaPrize held its first ever hackathon! We aimed to fix hackathons by encouraging longer-term project development and democratically decided how to use sponsor money. Here's how...

Issues with Hackathons

Hackathons and their gamified and time-constrained structure are highly motivational as well as the recognition of winning prizes. For 1/10 the cost of paying someone wages as employees you can gather top developers to work 10x harder than in their normal work for a weekend making prizes 100x more effective for mobilizing builder energy. That's what we have also seen with prizes on our platform viaPrize which offers a much lower barrier to entry way to launch your own prizes.

However, hackathons often result in half-built weekend projects which never reach a point in which they are actually useful. In addition, hackathons often result in sponsors requiring that someone builds using their tool or their chain rather than focusing on figuring out what projects would actually benefit users.

How can we lend more direction to hackers to ensure we're building something useful?

The Democratic Solution

Rather than the organizers (Noah Chon Lee founder of and Suede Kam core team at Hyper Oracle) deciding how to allocate sponsor money, Noah presented the idea of crowdsourcing project ideas then voting on how much funding to add to the prize pool for building each one. The prizes are only awarded if the projects are built and fully usable by the deadline (Oct 22) which has a longer time frame than the hackathon. In this way, we incentivize bringing a project to a usable state so a community may benefit from it rather than having half-built hacked projects.

Hackers could both win a prize at the end of the hackathon AND could win a prize building one of the specific projects from the democratic prize pool. This encourages hackers to choose one of the projects the community has upvoted though they can still come up with their own idea. When Sandro (@pyrodna on x) heard this idea, he helped gather Juliana (@sudobangbang) Harsh (@bajpaiharsh244) Dipanshu (@dipanshuhappy) and Swaraj (@swarajbachu) to begin building a ZK voting app. Thanks to a sponsorship from Zuzalu, we had $1,500 in funds for the democratic pool. We established three steps... 1. Identify problem statements In our first workshop, we gathered together (a 1.5 month Zuzalu inspired pop-up campus gathering web3 developers from around the world) to discuss the most difficult areas in organizing pop-up campuses.

We wrote down problem statements such as: How do you decide who to invite back to future events?

How do you retroactively award residents who went above and beyond and stepped up to help organize? From my experiences in Zuzalu for example we discovered two of the most difficult issues were 1. keeping track of housing and 2. accounting, invoicing sponsors and keeping distribution of prizes to hackathon winners. has decided to go open-source to work with Zuzalu and help solve the former issue and solved the second issue for events such as HackZuzalu in Singapore in September.

2. Brainstorm solutions We then asked how we might make tools that make the creation of pop-up campuses easier for organizers and a better experience for residents. We also visited an orphanage one of our hackathon speakers Vivian Chen (founding member of @Da0_g0v_tw and managing director of @girlsintech) supports to consider ways to build something helpful for them. We are in progress building them a website and helping them set up social media.

And we did a lil juggling with the kids :)

Submissions for project ideas related to community coordination/pop up campus tooling were submitted on and admins reviewed it and made sure it matched the topic and was clearly written before accepting it.

3. Voting on solutions

See these prizes you can win here: The Hackathon

During the hackathon we gathered 40 builders from Thailand, China, Belgium, USA, France, Taiwan, India, Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Korea, and Singapore!

We held the hackathon at, a blockchain startup society/crypto village by Chiang Mai. Huge shoutout to @linklinkguan, @muziknozik, Lynn, and Garfield of 4seas for providing an amazing space, food, and logistical support. This was a sort of housewarming party as it was the first large gathering in 4seas!

Thank you to the whole team who gathered hackers from around the world for the Zuzalu inspired 1.5 month residency/pop-up city and paid for transport

Massive shoutout to all our winners who stayed up all night building and to our judges :)

We are grateful for our media partners!

And of course the biggest thanks to @hyperoracle and Suede Kam making this possible as sponsors <3 Interested in making it easier to work with prizes for a hackathon, want to outsource a project idea, or win prizes building tools that communities actually want? Follow us on twitter for opportunities: Join our telegram to get involved:



Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page