Community,Retro

Writing a zkApp or Tooling Proposal in 4 Weeks: Phase 1 of zkIgnite Cohort 1

Phase one of Mina’s zkIgnite Cohort 1 is complete and the program has taken over 500 builders from zero to a powerful business proposal using zero knowledge technology. This blog gives you a zoomed-in look into the program where participants are going through weekly workshops & networking sessions in an effort to build projects on Mina and receive grant funding.

On February 15 zkIgnite Cohort 1 ushered in more than 600 builders to the Mina ecosystem. zkIgnite was created to give developers and entrepreneurs the tools they need to build a successful business using zero knowledge (ZK) technology.

The cohort meets weekly for workshops & networking sessions in an effort to build projects on Mina and receive some of the 500k USDC and 500k MINA in Mina Foundation grant funding. The program is split into two tracks: zkApps Challenges and Dev4Dev Challenges. The first month has been a tremendous success bringing in:

  • 500+ builders onto the zkIgnite Innovation Platform
  • 100+ zkApp proposals
  • 60+ Dev4Dev proposals
  • And 30 Electors from the community who will be voting on proposals.

But that’s not the best part — in only four weeks participants learned about ideation, proposal writing, approaching investors, and zkApp architecture. Let’s zoom into each weekly gathering to see some of the great work happening. 

Week One: Ideation 

zkIgnite Cohort 1 kicked off the program with over 300 people in a massive zkApp ideation session. 

Massive “wild ideas” brainstorming session from the zkIgnite, Cohort 1 kickoff call 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Otrxt6v5Cq

— Mina Developers 🪶 (@MinaDevelopers) February 15, 2023

Studies show that co-creation is 26% more innovative than individualized creation. This research was the basis of week one’s focus which involved submitting insights on a range of topics including privacy use cases (or lack thereof), tooling needs within the Mina ecosystem, zkApp architecture that is unique, and much more. The exercise stimulated the cohort’s creative juices and generated a remarkable 138 separate discussion threads related to zkApps and tooling.

You can watch week one’s gathering to learn more details about the program, hear from Mina Foundation’s CEO on the importance of collaboration, and have a look inside the brainstorming session.

Week Two: Proposal Best Practices

After week one’s flurry of inspiration, participants submitted over 100 insights to collaborate on and used them to start thinking about their favorite idea. In week two they learned some of the best practices for each component of their proposal including the problem statement, solution, architecture, budget, milestones, and dependencies

Then the group ventured to Gather.Town to narrow in and discuss what real-world problems they are hoping to solve using zero knowledge proofs. Here are some interesting discussions that emerged, many of which evolved from week one’s insights exercise:

People don’t always care about privacy as much as you think”

Privacy Focussed Loyalty Programs, Partner Rewards & Gifts”

“Community attestation protocol for validating claims & issuing credentials”

You can watch the proposal best practices workshop on Youtube here.

Week Three: What Makes A Startup Investible From a VC’s Perspective

As builders started to form their teams, they also met with individuals from the venture capital firm, Room40 Ventures, to learn about how they evaluate projects. They covered:

  • Key breakthroughs that occur at each stage from idea to company
  • Crypto-specific considerations at the productizing stage
  • ZK-specific considerations they are looking for in zkApp proposals

Room40 Ventures finished off by sharing an investor checklist they use to predict the next category-defining startup which looks at team, market, product, model, and company hygiene. 

Learn all about what makes a Web3 project attractive to a VC in the recording of week three’s gathering.


Week Four: Understanding zkApp Architecture

In the final week of the proposal phase of the program, participants were joined by a Mina ecosystem partner, O(1) Labs, to learn about zkApp architecture, which will play a pivotal part in the planning of their projects. 

The cohort went through how to design an example voting zkApp in three levels: easy, intermediate, and advanced. Below you can find an easy design approach.

Design of an on-chain voting zkApp at an easy level

As you may be able to see, the easy design presents some problems because it does not restrict who can vote and only allows one vote per block to be successful. The group then went through an intermediate design approach to fix this.

Design of an on-chain voting zkApp at an intermediate level

After building in all of the previous requirements, the group then learned how to optimize for scaling by aggregating votes off-chain, using recursive proofs. 

Design of an off-chain voting zkApp at an advanced level

Throughout the exercise participants got a deeper understanding of zkApps, finally getting to see why it’s considered the easiest and most powerful way to build private and scalable applications with zero knowledge technology.

If you’ve gotten this far, you may be interested in checking out the entire recording of the zkApp architecture workshop – and stay for the end where Gregor and Florian from O(1) Labs even share some bonus tips on how to further scale and achieve privacy! 

Eight Weeks To Go

With over 160 draft proposals in, participants are now entering the feedback phase of the program where community members are giving feedback on each other’s projects and revising their proposals until March 21st before the proposals are finalized, and electors begin voting.

If you weren’t able to participate in this cohort, zkIgnite Cohort 2 will be starting later this year. Now is a great time to jump onto the Innovation Platform to see what it’s like before the new cohort begins. Even if you weren’t able to submit a Cohort 1 proposal,  you can still leave feedback on community projects or join a team! There are teams currently looking for all sorts of skills to help build their projects such as designers, co-founders, developers, and more.

Here’s how to find a team or leave feedback on draft proposals:

  • Step 1: Create a zkIgnite account — this is where the cohort submits proposals, provides feedback, builds teams, votes, and more. 
  • Step 2: Choose a zkApp or Dev4Dev track — then click on the Participate tab. 
  • Step 3: Review the various proposals in each track and be sure to leave your feedback in the Discussion section. You can offer to help build proposals here or in the next step. 
  • Step 4: Meet other cohort members on Mina’s Discord. Introduce yourself in the #zkignite-connections channel. 

Some teams even took to Twitter to ask for help. Start connecting and join the movement in building the future with zero knowledge technology! 

📢 Looking for a talented designer to join our zkIgnite team!

We are building interchain multi bond on @MinaProtocol.

If interested, send us a DM and sign up here: https://t.co/nB0PHPJVE3 pic.twitter.com/R4mBkBtLhn

— vevivo.zsh (@vevivoofficial) March 9, 2023

Are you looking to join a team for #zkignite? – what about this? Looking for team members – UI/UX designer, Marketing expert and experiance Mina zkApp developer: https://t.co/aomQfyg2Z9

— comMINAty (@minacryptocom) February 23, 2023

A lot of interesting stuff is being proposed on @MinaProtocol zkIgnite, Super excited to get started with, @aniketpr01 and I have proposed a ZK-carbon-credit-score insight. Feel free to look it up here (https://t.co/tKiiZBoWoW)
Reach out to us if you're interested. 🙌🏾 #MINA

— Humblefool 💜 🦀 (@abhiarys) February 22, 2023

This team is looking for 2-3 developers to join them to build a data-centric privacy DID protocol for #zkIgnite. More info here, #developerjobs @MinaDevelopers https://t.co/RPvDj7X5lH you can also
message yukin#7050 on discord. pic.twitter.com/bFFU7DT5WA

— comMINAty (@minacryptocom) February 20, 2023

About Mina Protocol

Mina Protocol is being incubated by O(1) Labs, the leader in zk-SNARKs and verifiable computation. Mina Protocol, the world’s lightest blockchain, provides a foundation for the decentralized digital economy (Web 3.0), by affording all participants fully P2P, permissionless access to the chain, from any device. By utilizing recursive zk-SNARKs, the Mina blockchain always stays the same size — about 20 kilobytes (the size of a few tweets). Recursive zk-SNARKs allow nodes to rapidly share and update proof of the correct blockchain state across the network. This breakthrough application of zk-SNARKs solves the issues of scalability and high barrier to entry for nodes that have plagued legacy blockchains to-date. By making it easier for nodes to participate, Mina improves decentralization and therefore security of the network. The Mina blockchain can be easily accessed from any device, including phones and browsers, and can be seamlessly integrated into new decentralized applications (dapps).

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