Is CockroachDB Good for Hackathons?

Hackathons are––for the uninitiated––a little insane, and HTN one of the craziest among them. 1,000 students from all across the globe (literally!) descend on Waterloo, Ontario for a 36-contiguous-hour event to build a team and create interesting software.

While students might be motivated by prizes awarded in cash, pride, swag, and lucrative employment opportunities––it feels like most of all, students are eager to learn about new technologies and show what they can do in a day and a half.

Last year, Hack the North was Cockroach Labs’s first-ever hackathon and we were thrilled by it. The energy and ingenuity were unparalleled, so when we were invited back to sponsor Hack the North 2017, we took up the opportunity immediately. And we’re pleased to announce that this year an exceptional group of hackers didn’t disappoint.

Fame, Glory…and $1,000!

While learning about technology is certainly rewarding, a cash prize does a lot to create a sense of competition. Because building a database-driven app (especially if you never have) can be a time-intensive process, we offered a $1,000 prize for the team who built the best app using CockroachDB––and their efforts were impressive.

With the clever designs we saw throughout the weekend, we have to say that the answer to, “Is CockroachDB good for hackathons?” is a definite “yes.”

With that, I’m pretty excited to announce the winners!

SumNotes: Automatic Note Taker Powered by CockroachDB

SumNotes solves a problem faced by a lot of students: taking notes while a professor lectures can be hard (especially at a school as demanding as Waterloo). Using their application, students can record lectures, have the entire lecture converted to text, and then automatically summarized.

When we saw the demo, everyone on the Cockroach Labs team was really thrilled. It was a novel premise with a really elegant solution. And when we saw the team’s data model, we were stoked––it was not only the most complex of all the hackers, they also used CockroachDB in multiple ways. Not only was it used as an authentication system, but the transcription and summarization both used the database.

And––on top of these other achievements––half of the team are high school students!

A big congratulations to SumNotes for great work, and we hope they enjoy their prize. SumNotes on Devpost

Honorable Mentions

While SumNotes took home the prize, there were two other teams that we wish we could have awarded the prize!


CockroachDB features a built-in AdminUI, but when these hackers saw it, they immediately thought of some interesting opportunities to help operators manage their deployments.

Their hack ended up featuring a real-time cluster visualization tool that would provide you a quick glance of where your nodes were located and their current status.

There were a few things about this that impressed us. First, the team actually set up an internationally-distributed cluster of 8 nodes across 3 continents. Secondly, CockroachNest shows a real solution to a problem that Cockroach Labs ourselves want to solve. Great work by this team!

CockroachNest on Devpost

Hyper Tickets

Hyper Tickets leverages blockchain technology to eliminate ticket fraud––which is a real problem. In the UK alone, consumers lost £1.2 million to schemers selling phoney tickets.

This team set up a distributed, load-balanced cluster on the Google Cloud Platform using our docs, and tracked ticket holder information through CockroachDB.

It’s great to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive in this team: showing that some clever engineering can solve real world problems.

Hyper Tickets on Devpost

Want to show us what you’ve got?

Whether you’re a student hacker, or a seasoned pro, we’d love to hear what you’re building now or dream of doing in the future. Find us at any of our upcoming events.

Illustration by Lisk Feng

Ready to scale your database, but aren't sure where to start? We can help.

Get the guide