After self-teaching himself Java from the age of 14 in Colombia, Nicolas Diaz has since then specialized in blockchain technology, helped develop over 250 projects, and started building Cerebrum with his team, a self-sovereign identity startup. In a short time, he helped his emerging community by introducing them to working in tech. During this time he developed a strong belief in a privacy-enabled future, and thus joined the zkApps Builders Program to explore how zero knowledge technology can make his dream a reality.
Nicolas is now a Mina zkApp grant recipient, is actively proposing new projects to improve developer tooling, and is continuing to work on his project. Get to know him and his project in this short interview. (Note: Interview has been edited for clarity).
What zkApp did you build for the zkApp Builders Program?
I built Minado, a private network to allow private transactions on Mina. My team from the zkApps Builders Program and I believe that private transactions are necessary for building a fully private and secure ecosystem. Writing cryptographic-heavy functions is required for it so using Mina was the best decision because its libraries helped us to write code faster, and easier.
Current solutions take five hours to batch a transaction, while others are complicated to use and lack a strong user experience and interface — we knew we needed to create a product that is 10x easier and multi-chain-compatible, which others do not have.
The future should not be one where you lose control over your data. We envision a world where people can control their data in a smooth and low-effort way.
What was the best part of your zkApp building journey so far?
Over the last four months, we have learned about cryptography at a pace that we did not imagine before. In a short period of time, we were able to build a functional product with high complexity thanks to the incredible people that are part of Mina and the engineers at O(1) Labs. Without the tools they provided we would not be in the same position.
What was the biggest challenge while building?
We faced challenges building a scalable Merkle Tree architecture and a way to avoid double-spending when withdrawing transactions using nullifiers. However, the Mina community was very supportive along the way and helped us overcome most of these challenges.
It is also great to see other community members already submitting grant proposals to create more developer tooling to reduce these challenges even more!
Do you have any next steps planned to continue the project?
Our dream is to build an L2 private network that enables more builders to create ZkApps such as private transactions, voting, DeFi lending applications, staking applications, and much more.
To achieve this we first need to integrate with wallets like Auro Wallet, among others. Once the integrations are ready, our focus will be on increasing adoption by building bridges between Minado and other chains to increase volume and liquidity.
Follow Nicolas’ footsteps and find out what you need to know to build a zkApp here.
If you’re interested in connecting with Nicolas further, find him on the Mina Discord channel as Nicolas Diaz#8708 or on, GitHub and LinkedIn.
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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.