What is zkIgnite? | A Closer Look at Mina Foundation's Builders Program

What is zkIgnite? | A Closer Look at Mina Foundation's Builders Program

A smooth introduction to Mina Foundation's builders program

Hello everyone! Welcome to the new post of my blog. Before getting into the details, I want to let you all know about some news. I’ll be contributing to Mina Foundation’s zkIgnite Cohort 3 as an elector! That’s awesome, but… What is zkIgnite, exactly?

In this post, I’ll try to explain what zkIgnite is, what has been done so far in the previous cohorts, and finally, what kind of new things we have in this cohort (Cohort 3).

Before starting, it is worth noting that this is NOT a paid content.


  1. What is zkIgnite, exactly?

    1. Overview

    2. zkApp Product Track

    3. Developer Tooling & Infra Track

  2. What happened so far?

    1. Cohort 0

    2. Cohort 1

    3. Cohort 2

  3. What now? | Cohort 3

    1. Who are involved?

      1. Builders

      2. Electors

      3. Technical Committee

      4. And of course, community!

    2. Judging Criteria

    3. Funding

    4. Timeline

    5. How to participate?

  4. Personal Thoughts

What is zkIgnite, exactly?


First of all, if you are not familiar with the Mina ecosystem and zkApps, you can take a look at my relevant blog post: Exploring Mina Protocol: Building zkApps w/ ‘o1js‘ by Furkan Akal.

zkIgnite is a community-driven builder program to enhance developers and entrepreneurs in the Mina ecosystem. The program provides

  • technical and non-technical support,

  • mentorship,

  • grants.

So far, 50 zkApp and developer tooling projects have been funded.

zkApp Product Track

Participants build applications utilizing zero-knowledge proofs to address practical issues in the real world.

Although there is no restriction to participate as a team or as an individual, teams are encouraged to have 1-2 developers. However, participation is open to everyone, including non-technical builders and community members.

Developer Tooling and Infrastructure Track

Participants in this track build tools making it easier and more efficient to build on Mina Protocol.

We will discuss these tracks with more details in the upcoming sections.

What happened so far?

Cohort 0

It was the first edition of zkIgnite back in 2022. It ran from November 22nd, 2022, until the winners were announced on December 22nd, 2022.

Prize Pool

Top 3 Prizes:

  • 1st prize: 20,000 MINA,

  • 2nd prize: 12,000 MINA,

  • 3rd prize: 8,000 MINA.

High Quality zkApps: All high quality zkApps submitted were eligible to receive 5K MINA.

Bonus Prize: 1-1.5K MINA to be received by the teams building an oracle to pull on-chain data for zkApps to use.

Tutorial 4: The first 1000 participants completing the zkApp Tutorial 4 were eligible to receive 50 MINA.

Judging Criteria

  1. Technical implementation,

  2. Impact,

  3. Business potential,

  4. Building capacity for next builders.

Cohort 1

The second edition of the program, till the winners were announced, took place between February 15th, 2023 and April 3rd, 2023

Prize Pool

It is;

  • 250,000 USDC,

  • 150,000 MINA

for the zkApp Track and;

  • 250,000 USDC,

  • 150,000 MINA

for the Dev4Dev (Developer Tooling & Infrastructure) Track. So 500K USDC and 300K MINA in total.

Judging Criteria

zkApp Track:

  • Business potential,

  • Impact,

  • Clarity,

  • Feasibility.

Dev4Dev Track:

  • Innovation,

  • Dev experience,

  • Scalability,

  • Feasibility.

Cohort 2

The third edition of the program took place between June 14th, 2023 and September 11th, 2023.

Prize Pool

It is

  • 500,000 MINA and

  • 500,000 USDC

to allocate towards zkApp and Dev Tooling proposals.

Funding allocation decisions were made by electors who are a group of experienced builders and community members within the ecosystem, by considering the similar criteria applied in the previous cohort.

What now? | Cohort 3

Who are involved?


If you are interested in application development to solve a real world problem, then zkApp Product Track is for you. You will be expected to propose a zkApp idea to solve a real world problem and to have a commercial potential.

If not, don’t worry. You can go for the Developer Tooling & Infrastructure Track. Every self-sustaining ecosystem in Web3 needs and will always need people to make things more efficient.


They are a group of community members who are experienced in zkApp development or zero-knowledge cryptography. Their main role in this cohort is to provide some feedback for builders and vote for proposals by allocating MINA tokens.

Technical Committee

They are a group of ZK experts to provide technical review and feedback on submitted proposals.

And of course, community!

The Mina community is one of the largest and most active communities in the Web3 space. They will play the key role to test the products by directly using them. You can join Mina Protocol Discord, if you haven’t so far.

Judging Criteria

zkApp Product Track

  • Commercial Potential: Does the zkApp have the potential to generate revenue? How strong is the use case for a sustainable business over time?

  • Go-to-Market Strategy: Does the zkApp have the potential to bring on thousands of real users in the next 3-6 months? Has the proposer articulated how they plan to get new users onboard with an MVP?

  • Vision & Growth Potential: How compelling is the vision for where this application will exist at scale?

  • Feasibility: Will the proposed design support the application’s desired scalability? Did the proposer identify key risks or dependencies and articulate how to work around them?

  • Team: Based on the information provided, does the proposing team have relevant experience that will help them deliver on their milestones?

Developer Tooling & Infrastructure Track

  • Impact: Does the proposal solve a real problem or address a gap for developers building on Mina Protocol? How important is the problem to be solved for developers to build quality zkApps?

  • Scalability & Growth Potential: Does the proposed solution have the potential to scale and accommodate the growing demand for zkApps in the future? Does the proposal promote reusability and provide benefits to multiple parties within the Mina ecosystem?

  • Architecture: Does the proposed architecture design demonstrate that the proposers have a good understanding of Mina Protocol and o1js? Will the proposed architecture support the application’s desired impact and scalability?

  • Feasibility: Are the proposed milestones feasible to achieve within the current o1js functionality? Did the proposer identify key risks and articulate how to work around them?

  • Team: Based on the information provided, does the proposing team have relevant experience that will help them deliver on their milestones?

Funding & Grant

zkApp Product:

  • Goal: To support zkApps with commercial potential to bring more users to Mina Protocol.

  • Initial Funding: 1,200,000 MINA

Developer Tooling & Infrastructure:

  • Goal: To support projects that improve the developer experience on Mina Protocol.

  • Initial Funding: 300,000 MINA


  • Goal: To support some community members who allocate funding to project proposals.

  • Grant: 5,000 MINA per elector

Technical Committee:

  • Goal: To support ZK experts who provide technical review on project proposals.

  • Grant: 15,000 MINA per committee member


  • December 22nd, 2023: Cohort 3 Kick-off Call

  • January 31st, 2024: Deadline for first draft project proposals

  • February 2nd - 10th, 2024: Technical reviewers and electors provide feedback on proposals

  • February 17th, 2024: Deadline for final proposals

  • February 18th - 28th, 2024: Electors vote to allocate grant funding

  • March 1st, 2024: Cohort 3 grantees are announced

  • March 2nd - May 31st, 2024: Grantees build towards their technical milestones

So, there is still a couple of days to submit your proposal.

How to participate?

  1. Create an account on https://zkignite.minaprotocol.com/.

  2. Submit your proposal by visiting the relevant website below:

    1. for zkApp Product Track

    2. for Developer Tooling & Infrastructure Track

Personal Thoughts

I really love how O(1) Labs and Mina Foundation are conducting the developer & community marketing efforts. They are doing it using as natural ways as possible and unfortunately this is not an industrial standard for our ecosystem right now.

I find zkIgnite extremely useful and also important to bring a new sort of standard for developer marketing. I hope it will lead many new start-ups to build on Mina Protocol.