A Guide To Building Your Web3 Project Proposal: ZK Edition

Are you looking to build a project with ZK technology? In this worksheet, you will learn about the criteria used to evaluate zkApp project proposals, how to structure your proposal, and tips to impress venture capitalists or other funders!

Are you looking to build a project with ZK technology? Mina’s zkIgnite Program has called founders, developers, designers, and more to build zkApp projects on Mina. Along the way, participants receive support, workshops, networking resources, and more to guide them toward creating stellar project proposals for community-governed funding.

Whether you are in the program, thinking of joining future cohorts, or just have an idea that you’d like to get on paper – you’re in the right place.

In this worksheet, you will learn about the criteria used to evaluate zkIgnite projects, how to structure your proposal, and tips to impress venture capitalists or other funders!

Evaluation Criteria

Acquiring funding is usually one of the first hurdles that founders with an idea have. There are venture capital firms that specialize in funding early projects – but having the right characteristics in place at that stage is important for succeeding. Room40 Ventures shared some considerations they take when evaluating crypto and ZK projects here. 

Mina’s zkIgnite program also suggests four criteria for zkApp-specific projects depending on what track you’re on. The zkApp track is focused on designing ideas that will impact real-world users while the Dev Tooling & Services track is focused on tooling and services that will improve the zkApp developer experience. 

Although the following four criteria per track are specific to Mina’s zkIgnite voting process, it’s important for anyone looking to build a ZK-related project to incorporate them into the proposal. To facilitate, you will see some callouts in the worksheet for when it’s recommended to focus especially on a certain criterion in your proposal.

First, let’s go over what they are and what they mean. 

zkApp Project Success Criteria Dev Tooling & Services Project Success Criteria
Impact: Does the zkApp have the potential to benefit everyday users?

Business Potential:  Does it have the potential to grow into a successful business on top of Mina?

Clarity: Are the milestones clear and easy to asses?

Feasibility: Are the milestones feasible to be achieved with the current o1js (formerly SnarkyJS) functionality?

Dev Experience: How does this tool improve the overall experience for the devs building zkApps?

Innovation:  Does the proposal provide new solutions? If not, how does it improve upon existing tools?

Scalability: Does the proposal have the potential to scale and accommodate all of the zkApp developers in the ecosystem?

Feasibility: Are the milestones feasible to be achieved with the current o1js (formerly SnarkyJS) functionality?


Crafting a Stellar Project Proposal: A Worksheet

Use the following worksheet to work through the key sections that a typical project proposal should have. Each section will cover some best practices to keep in mind. 

Once you’re done, you will have a great baseline project proposal that you can submit to zkIgnite or other funding programs! If you get stuck, feel free to check out some of the winning proposals from zkIgniet Cohort 1 for inspiration.

Make a copy of the worksheet here so you can work on it yourself once you’re ready. 

1. Problem & Proposed Solution

Every elector should be able to answer these three questions very easily after reviewing your proposal. Here are some tips:

  • Think about how the success criteria come out when you answer these.
  • Validate the problem statement. Point out data points to show there is a market for the problem, or speak anecdotally. Remember, people may not care as much about a certain problem as you think. 

2. Architecture

This section is where you will provide a high-level overview of your design and architecture. Any information about your planned design will be helpful in visualizing your project. Here are some tips:

  • Show that you’ve done your research on the technology by explaining how you are going to build your idea and expressing that you are confident that you can make it happen. If you are building for zkIgnite, here are some resources on o1js (formerly SnarkyJS) & Mina. 
  • Focus on the feasibility & scalability criteria (depending on your track).

3. Budget & Milestones

Here is where you will detail how much funding you’ll need, how it will be spent, what will be accomplished, and how long it will take. 

Sizing Your Budget

  • Think about the milestones and timeline of your proposal when determining what funding you need to complete it. Not all proposals need to end in a finished project as long as you make that clear. 
  • Think about how many team members you aim to have for the length of your proposed project. 
  • zkIgnite participants – remember that funding is a community-governed process so funding sizes are completely up to electors. However, the Mina Foundation team has provided some recommendations to electors.
    • There is 250k USDC and 150k MINA per track available for Cohort 2.
    • Funding is intended to bootstrap the beginning, not the entire project. So the scope should be 3 months or less. 

Budget Tiers

Typically you can propose two budgets to your funders. A ‘Standard Scope’ is the minimum amount that you will require to deliver your proposed milestones, and an ‘Advanced Scope’ allows you to propose a larger scope and effort for the same development timeline. Here are some tips for planning your budget

  • Focus on the feasibility and clarity criteria (depending on your track).
  • Only request an advanced tier if you are confident that you can deliver on the larger scope according to the timeline.
  • If you include an advanced scope, make sure to detail that in your architecture section. 

4. Addressing Risks

Many things will likely change as you begin working on your project plan, so call out some of the dependencies you foresee. This will be important for your milestone check-ins after funding. 

5. Team Credentials

This section is to show your credibility as a team and call out talent that you are still looking for. Make sure to list:

  • Roles
  • Experience
  • GitHub profiles, or portfolios

If you’re submitting to Mina’s zkIgnite program and are new to the Mina ecosystem, this section is extremely important! The more information you can leave, the easier it is for electors to verify your identity and support your proposal. 

Where to Get Further Support

Now that you have completed a draft proposal for your big idea, it’s a great idea to collect feedback from your peers and potential market.

If you are looking to build zkApps on Mina you can join zkIgnite to pitch your proposal to the community for funding, or you can check out these resources: 

Technical Support:


Other Learning:

About Mina Protocol

Mina is the world’s lightest blockchain, powered by participants. Rather than apply brute computing force, Mina uses advanced cryptography and recursive zk-SNARKs to design an entire blockchain that is about 22kb, the size of a couple of tweets. It is the first layer-1 to enable efficient implementation and easy programmability of zero knowledge smart contracts (zkApps). With its unique privacy features and ability to connect to any website, Mina is building a private gateway between the real world and crypto—and the secure, democratic future we all deserve.

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