StackBlitz recently teamed up with BuildIllinois, a hackathon organized by two remarkable students from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Aryan Gandhi and Ishan Deshpande.

I sat down with Aryan and Ishan to learn more about why they started BuildIllinois and what they’re hoping it brings to their community.

This summer, Aryan had noted on Twitter that, despite their university having one of the top computer science programs in the country, he felt there weren’t enough opportunities for students to get together with other builders and work on real-world projects.

Ishan saw this tweet and immediately reached out.

Having built a hackathon program previously, Ishan suggested the format as the first event to help put BuildIllinois on the map.

Just two months later, their inaugural weekend hackathon was a resounding success, drawing in over 150 participants.

I asked Ishan and Aryan which of the 36 projects created during the hackathon stood out to them:

Aryan: My favorite won our second place prize and was an AI feature for a project called Speakeasy. Speakeasy is an app to help people learn new languages really fast using WhatsApp. During the hackathon, Speakeasy’s creator Nikhil built a feature where you can say something in the language that you’re trying to learn and the AI will actually say it back to you with the corrected pronunciation and intonation that you should have.

Ishan: My favorite project was probably our first place winner: a project that helps campus clubs track their expenses. Many clubs have to collect dues from hundreds of members and sometimes invoice many different vendors. Most just use Venmo for everything, but there’s no feature for you to bulk invoice everyone at once. So this project basically used Venmo’s, API to create an all-in-one platform for clubs to manage expenses and easily create multiple invoices all at once.

Other projects included everything from a VS Code extension that uses AI to let developers ask questions about a tool’s documentation right from within their code editor to an app that estimates the wait times at on-campus dining halls

We’re happy to have been able to support Aryan, Ishan, and BuildIllinois!

Are you planning a hackathon?

StackBlitz makes it easy for anyone to get started on a new project without configuring a local dev environment. You can instantly onboard unlimited collaborators to your team, and when you’re ready to share your project with the judges, it’s as simple as sending them the link to your project.

If you’re interested in running your hackathon on StackBlitz, reach out to and tell us about your event!

Alexander Berger
Leading various go-to-market teams at StackBlitz
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