Recap: Mina x Devconnect Istanbul 2023

Mina ecosystem contributors recently traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, for one of the year's biggest Ethereum events - Devconnect.

Mina ecosystem contributors recently traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, for one of the year’s biggest Ethereum events – Devconnect Istanbul. For two weeks, hackers, designers, crypto enthusiasts, and blockchain builders from across the globe gathered in the historic city to collaborate and innovate.

The burgeoning Mina community was well-represented across various events, participating in workshops, delivering keynotes, joining hackathons, and connecting at social gatherings. There was no shortage of opportunities to spread the word about Mina Protocol’s groundbreaking zero knowledge proofs (ZKPs) blockchain and build valuable connections in the ZK community.

In a snapshot: 

  • There were 20+ Mina talks and workshops
  • There were 29 Mina project submissions at hackathons

Here is a run-through of some of the action from EthGlobal Istanbul and highlights how Mina made an impact. 

Day 1

The week kicked off with the ZK Hack, a hackathon spread across the first weekend. Sponsored by one of Mina’s ecosystem partners O(1) Labs, the event drew 48 submitted projects built using zero knowledge proofs in just 48 hours. 12 of the projects leveraged O(1) Labs’ ZK-development framework o1js, showing strong enthusiasm for building on Mina.

Day 2

On Saturday, O(1) Labs CEO Emre Tekisalp headlined the Turkish Zero-Knowledge Community Summit. He discussed various topics, including the benefits of zero knowledge proofs, how they work at layers 1 and 2, and how O(1) Labs’ o1js framework enables easy zero knowledge development using TypeScript. Emre also shared his vision for 2024 being a breakout year for real-world zero knowledge applications.

Other Mina ecosystem partners introduced new ZK-focused projects at the summit. Raphael Panic, Co-Founder at Protokit, introduced the ZK App Chain thesis and its framework, which eases application-specific chains. 

Day 3

Teams from Mina Foundation, =nil; Foundation and O(1) Labs participated in panels at the zkDay Conference on Monday. Head of Marketing Natasha Carter (Mina Foundation) spoke on a privacy panel alongside other zero knowledge projects. CTO Brandon Kase (O(1) Labs) participated in a panel on zero knowledge hardware, and CEO Misha Komarav (=nil;) delivered a keynote about their foundation.

ZK Community Meetup – Phil Kelly (O(1) Labs) participated in a panel demystifying the intricacies and potential real-world uses of zero knowledge proofs.

Mina zkConnect – One of the week’s highlights was Monday evening’s sold-out “zkConnect” community event. If you missed it on social media, zkConnect drew members of Mina’s Turkish community together with Mina Protocol fans from around the world for a memorable night of networking.

The stunning underground Şerefiye Cistern, built 1,600 years ago in the heart of Istanbul, provided a jaw-dropping venue accompanied by a light show, live traditional Turkish music, and DJing by Mina Foundation Head of Community Programs, Will Cove. The energy and excitement for Mina were palpable as the community strengthened bonds over conversations, culture, and cryptography. 



Day 4

O(1) Labs CTO Brandon Kase was back on stage discussing use cases for ZKPs during the Zero Knowledge Unleashed event. He talked about the explosion of interest in ZK technology in 2022 but highlighted the need for usability to drive adoption. o1js aims to provide easy onboarding for new developers to the ZK space.

Brandon Kase speaking at zkUnleashed.

Leap Zero Knowledge – Teddy Pender from the Mina Foundation emphasized how Mina Protocol uniquely positions itself to scale Ethereum by enabling interoperability between the two networks.

Teddy explained scalability is not just about transactions per second – it’s about managing system complexity to provide good user experiences. Slow finality, network congestion, and unpredictable gas fees – manifest as pain points for end users.

Mina can help mitigate these issues by easily porting state proofs onto Ethereum. This builds a bridge for Ethereum dapps to leverage Mina, as well as application-specific chains and layer 2s built on Mina for computation. By compartmentalizing complexity, developers can optimize user experiences and mental models for their target users. And by avoiding gas fees, businesses can open up applications to wider audiences.

Brilliant session @LeapStudioXYZ 🔥

Thread coming soon on scalability, Mina <—> Ethereum, and interaction design 🔜

— teddy (@franklyteddy) November 14, 2023

zkPenthouse + LambdaClass Workshop – One of the more technical workshops was hosted by LambdaClass, who are working on an exciting project to bridge Mina with EVM-compatible chains. Their approach allows generating zk-SNARK proofs validating Mina blockchain states using the Mina framework.

These proofs can then be posted and verified on chains like Ethereum to enable trustless bridging of tokens and other assets between Mina and EVM environments. It’s a novel approach to interoperability that maintains privacy and capitalizes on Mina’s succinct proofs. The workshop provided a deep dive into LambdaClass’ progress in constructing this cross-chain bridge.

lambda class-bridge-workshop
LambdaClass’ workshop at Mina’s zkPenthouse.

Day 5 

O(1) Labs Researcher Danny Willems gave a technical presentation on zkVM architectures at the ZK Social Club event. 

Later, we saw two ecosystem partners take to the stage at zkAccelerate. LambdaClass and =nil; discussed emerging zero-knowledge research areas. The discussion touched on active debates around SNARKs vs. STARKs, the challenges of creating quality technical education content, eliminating trusted setups, and collaborating to advance the ZK space.

Action shots of @dwillems42 explaining the Kimchi zkVM stack (currently optimized for the OP Stack fault-proof MIPS VM) ; for more details dig into the RFCs for each of the components 👀 + more to come!

— bkase 🪶 (@bkase_) November 15, 2023

Day 6

On Thursday, O(1) Labs hosted an interactive zero knowledge workshop at ProgCrypto. They demonstrated how o1js enables building specialized ZK circuits in TypeScript/JavaScript, making it easy for a range of developers to start using ZKPs.

An engaged, dynamic workshop on zk-powered applications at ProgCrypto today! We demonstrated how #o1js allows you to write specialized zk circuits and how its versatility and compatibility with TypeScript and JavaScript makes it an ideal framework for various projects and apps.

— O(1) Labs (@o1_labs) November 16, 2023

Day 7 

On Friday, ETHGlobal started with a brilliant workshop hosted by recent zkIgnite cohort members Protokit on building zero knowledge rollups using their user-friendly modular framework for Mina-based zkApps. This technical workshop explains how their zkVM leverages Mina and o1js to help app chains prioritize ZK, interoperability, and privacy preservation, with a minimal learning curve. 

Day 8

As the hacking continued at ETHGlobal, Mina Foundation’s Teddy Pender delivered a short keynote highlighting Mina’s unique capabilities as a zk-SNARKs layer 1 blockchain. He described how Mina is built from the ground up with zero knowledge, making it easy to develop private, scalable applications using frameworks like o1js and Protokit.

The ETHGlobal Istanbul hackathon provided the perfect venue for the Mina community to engage directly with developers. Representatives supported the Mina Protocol stand throughout the event, fielding questions and guiding hackers to explore zero knowledge proofs.

Some valuable ecosystem partners and builders joined, sharing unbiased perspectives on building on Mina based on their own experiences. Having this diverse group on hand offered hackers a well-rounded introduction to Mina development straight from the community.

The passionate participation at Mina’s hackathon stand demonstrated the enthusiasm within the Ethereum community for what Mina Protocol is building and for leveraging zero knowledge proofs for privacy and scalability. 


Day 9 – Final Day at ETHGlobal

Sunday saw the close of ETHGlobal, with over 2,000 blockchain enthusiasts and builders gathering for ETHGlobal’s flagship hackathon and conference. Attendees from 90 countries came together to shape the future of blockchain over an action-packed weekend.

The event brought together the local Turkish crypto community with international Web3 builders traveling from afar. This diverse group collaborated and competed for prizes including $20,000 for those building on Mina during the 36-hour hackathon. In total there were 17 Mina-related project submissions with 6 winning projects. All winning projects were invited to receive a zkNavigators badge to continue building on Mina post-hackathon. 

Here’s a quick recap of the awesome Mina prize winners from ETH Global Istanbul…

  • ZKnoid – Off-chain gaming using Protokit and settling on Mina
  • Alterlend – A zkEnabled Lending Protocol
  • zkCollector –  A Light-weight application specific zkVM for proving off-chain gaming
  • Recursive Gaming – A recursive scheme for gaming built on Mina
  • PRENDICO – Fast post-disaster financial assistance, ensuring end-to-end private transactions with zero knowledge proofs
  • EXAMINA – A Mina-based platform where students self-verify exams with ZK technology.

Until next time…

Thank you to the hundreds of attendees who joined Mina’s community events in Istanbul. Whether you engaged in a technical workshop, deployed your first zkApp, or connected with the community at zkConnect or the EthGlobal hackathon, your enthusiasm and support are greatly appreciated — a special thanks to those who sold out Mina’s zkConnect event and made it such an unforgettable and inspiring night.

The progress displayed at the workshops, the passion of the hackers, and the bonds formed among the Mina Turkish community reaffirmed that the momentum behind ZK technology and Mina Protocol is growing stronger by the day. We look forward to continuing these relationships and collaborations as we work together to drive mainstream adoption of efficient, accessible, and private blockchain applications.

Please share your experiences and feedback from the events and see the Mina Ecosystem Calendar to check out what other events are coming up. We hope you enjoyed connecting with the Mina ecosystem in Istanbul as much as we did — until next time!

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