By on June 27, 2013

How to find app ideas for hackathons

This post is brought to you in part by Geeklist, a vibrant platform for geeks to discover, connect and share the great work they have done.  Check out the upcoming ‘Hack for Good’ global mobile hackathon this coming June 28th – 30th.

We love hackathons!  We love seeing what developers can do with APIs.  Just look at this, this, thisthis, this, this, and this! However with hackathons running almost every day, it’s easy to run out of app ideas.  What if your app was already created in some hackathon that you didn’t know about?  Or not sure if there’s an API for a feature you need. At Mashape, we make it easy for developers to discover and try new APIs.  We understand that you guys are working under time pressure.  That’s why we provide an ‘interactive documentation’ for each API in Mashape.  Instead of reading a long static documentation, you get to try the API using a test console, with code snippets! Aside from Mashape, below are extra tips/resources on how you can find app ideas for hackathons.  Enjoy and happy coding!

Hackathon team discussion

1. Check the theme of the hackathon.. (duh)  Themes provide the boundaries for your app idea.  A good hackathon would set a theme that’s not too specific and not to broad.  Just enough for you to wiggle around.  Check out this theme from the ‘Hack for Good’ hackathon: “By taking part in this event or the entire series you will be helping build apps and make non-profit sites mobile-friendly around the world. Themes will include hacking to help: Disaster and Emergency solutions – Education and Learning – Workplace and Jobs – Poverty and Hunger”.That gives me enough wiggle space to try cool ideas in my head.  It’s also very clear that I should be building a mobile app for non-profit organizations.

Hacker League

2. Check what’s already out there  It’s always a good idea to check if your idea is unique, or can be improved upon.  Someone must’ve done something similar, but needs a little tweaking.  Or you just need an inspiration for an app design.  Here are two sites to check: and (currently Hackerleague has no search function so you can try this instead).  You can also try a Google News Search of past hackathon winners. For other hackathon tips you can check out

Face detection

3. Check the APIs that everyone else will overlook  I’m willing to bet that no one (or very few) would try a face recognition API, a voice recognition API, a summarization API, or a meaning recognition API because they sound complex and hard to implement.  These teams here and here didn’t buy into that nonsense.  And they won 🙂  Now it’s your turn!  Here are links to List of 50+ Machine Learning APIs, 50+ face recognition APIs and SDKs, and natural language processing APIs.  Let’s thrown in some fun and cool APIs for kicks (face mash, anyone?).

API Randomizer

4. Check out This app was created by Matt Bernier and used our own Mashape API (it’s an API for APIs… Inception yeah I know).  If you click that blue button long enough I’m sure some random weird combination will make sense 🙂  If you want to improve it, you can get it in Github.

Do you have other ideas to find app ideas for a hackathon?  Let us know!  Send it to and we’ll add it here.

What are you waiting for?