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Meet the zkApp Builder — Florian Kluge

From curiosity to an idea to a proof-of-concept—Mina community member, Florian is now a zkApp developer and grant recipient working on a zkRollup that will help scale Mina and improve the building experience forever. Get to know Florian in this blog.

After a friend told him about Mina, Florian Kluge, also known as Trivo#0001, decided to join the Mina Discord channel in April 2021 with questions about staking and node operating right away. As a software developer in Germany, Trivo was naturally interested in diving into blockchains.

One question turned into the next as he received help from other members of the Mina community.

 

In less than two months, Trivo had become an expert and began helping community members himself before diving into the next Mina technology, zkApps. 

 

Interested in scaling applications, Trivo joined the first cohort of the 12-week zkApp Builders Program in early 2022. After graduating from the program, he is now a grant recipient and has gone on to work with engineers at Mina’s ecosystem partner, O(1) Labs, to continue building what he started during the program. Learn more about the project Trivo is currently working on here! (Interview has been edited for clarity).

Tell us about the project you worked on during the zkApp Builders Program.

I am working on a modular zkRollup framework— called zkFusion. The zkRollup will increase transaction throughput and the framework will be a tool that developers can reuse and build their applications on top of, without having to worry too much about the underlying infrastructure.  Hopefully, developers can easily integrate their existing smart contract (written in SnarkyJS) into the rollup framework — essentially allowing them to spin up their own application-specific framework with ease (current plan). This is going to be very important for things like building DEXs, and will also allow for a better user experience.

I wanted to build this because SnarkyJS and Mina are brand new — so it’s important to give new developers access to high-quality tools to support the ecosystem.  zk-SNARKs are at the heart of Mina, so it was natural to build something on top of it that uses zk-SNARKs as well! Especially because SnarkyJS takes care of all the low-level cryptography so I can instead focus on my business logic.

What do you enjoy most about building zkApps?

Building zkApps requires you to think about smart contracts from a completely different point of view. Zero knowledge programming is challenging when you first get into it, but after some time it will feel very natural, especially thanks to SnarkyJS for making it so easy!

Before I got introduced to Mina, I played around with other ZK tools like Circom and never really enjoyed it. SnarkyJS in comparison is much easier to use, especially for people who have a background in web development or general programming with JavaScript/TypeScript.  It does all the heavy lifting when it comes to producing state transition proofs.

Are there any challenges you are facing as you build zkFusion?

Building an application, be it small or big,  zero knowledge or non-zero knowledge, requires a lot of planning and experience. Especially a technology like rollups, which are still brand new in the industry and are not widely used or developed. Because of that, one has to start entirely (more or less) from scratch.

 I made an effort to learn from what’s out there—most notably the resources of existing projects like zkSync or Starkware. Now I am working with engineers at one of Mina’s ecosystem partners, O(1) Labs to continue building my project full-time.

Now that you’ve already started on the zkRollup, what is next?

After the zkApp Builders Program ended, I received a grant to continue working on and improving it. My goal is to improve throughput and stability. Eventually, I’d like to “release” something that developers can work with that can kickstart their zkApp without having to worry about the low-level details and infrastructure too much.

What is your dream ZK use case or app?

Beyond scaling solutions, I am excited about easy and trustless KYC. Most KYC processes are currently very tedious and have annoying processes — you have to go through all of your documents and release a lot of information about yourself. Using a small zero knowledge proof would make it so much easier. 

Mina’s zkOracles accessing Web2 data in a trustless way will allow for interesting use cases like this!

 

Keep up with Florian’s progress on the quarterly ecosystem roadmap update. You can also join Florian on his zkApps journey by getting on the zkApps Beta Testers Leaderboard where you’ll learn the basics of building ZK smart contracts by completing zkApp test challenges for points. To provide a better experience, participation is being opened up in waves – sign up to join the zkApps Beta Testers Leaderboard now.

If you are a developer interested in building a zkApp, sign up for the zkApp developer intro guide (a deep dive on Mina, what you need to know to build zkApps, and a guide to available resources).

If you’re interested in connecting with Florian further, find him on the Mina Discord channel as Trivo#0001 or on Twitter, GitHub, or LinkedIn.

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. Mina is stewarded by the Mina Foundation, a public benefit corporation headquartered in the United States.

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