Founder Spotlight: Deep dive into Zero-knowledge-proof

“It is very clear that Zero Knowledge will become huge.”

It’s hard to talk about Ingonyama without first explaining the company’s name. Ingonayma means “lion” in Zulu. That’s appropriate because Ingonyama’s mission is to lead the pack, forging the foundation upon which applications requiring Zero Knowledge Proof performance can be built at greater speed and scale.

And just like a pride of mighty lions, Ingonyama relies on teamwork and collaboration to succeed, while courageously seeking technological breakthroughs. The company is currently working to design the hardware layer to improve the cost and energy efficiency for zero-knowledge (ZK) applications.

What is a zero-knowledge proof?

Basically, it is a protocol that allows one party (the prover) to prove to another party (the verifier) that a given statement is true or that a computational problem has been solved correctly. At a simplistic level, it’s like magically taking a very complex computational problem and breaking it down into something that everyone can do.

Another key benefit of ZK proofs is that they make it possible for users to know with certainty how their personal data is being used while retaining full control of it. This is critical for solving many of today’s data and privacy concerns.

That’s where Ingonyama comes in. As a next-generation Web3 infrastructure company, Ingonyama is building an optimized hardware/software stack for ZK proofs and other advanced cryptographic primitives. Specifically, the company is developing technologies to accelerate critical portions of the ZK protocol.

This is important because ZK proofs are very compute intensive and difficult to scale using conventional CPUs and off-the-shelf hardware. Ingonyama is making it possible to dramatically increase throughput and latency while reducing costs. Ingonyama’s ZK acceleration delivers better power/performance for ZK proofs, thus enabling Validators for ZK-based chains to gain wider market share and achieve outsized financial returns.

“There is now a huge demand for ZK,” says Omer Shlomovits, founder and CEO of Ingonyama. “Take the blockchain, for instance. The two main problems are privacy and scalability. Both these problems can be solved with ZK technology.”

The rise of ZK proofs

One major use case for ZK proofs going forward will be Web3, which is now poised to be the backend for future financial and metaverse environments. Creating a more cost-effective base layer of ZK proofs is key to their widespread adoption.

“These markets show increasing reliance on, and hunger for, ZK proofs to achieve both scaling and user privacy,” says Shlomovits. “The higher the demands for scaling of blockchain networks and the more complex the code running on top of them, the more ZK proof computation presents a persistent constraint on users.”

That’s why Inogonyama is developing technologies to accelerate performance of ZK protocol stack, opening the door to much greater Web3 developer adoption. Shlomovits adds that the impact of accessible ZK proofs will be game-changing, helping to revolutionize a multitude of industries, from blockchains and the financial and insurance industries, to gaming, the metaverse, and decentralized identity, to reinventing how personal, medical, and other sensitive data is shared across the web.

“As the technology becomes accessible, many more applications leveraging ZK proofs will emerge as new builders create markets and service their communities,” says Shlomovits. “This presents Ingonyama a unique opportunity to be the difference-maker across a spectrum of use cases as we work to make Zero Knowledge proofs inexpensive, accessible, and fast.”

Working with Walden Catalyst

Ingonyama recently secured Series Seed-1 funding led by Walden Catalyst Ventures, with that financing going toward further developing the technology and hiring key executives and technical experts.

To date, Shlomovits has built a strong, seasoned team with expertise in math, cryptography, software, system architecture, and hardware design. And even though Ingonyama is an early-stage company, it already has strong support from some of the top companies in Web3 as their customers and investors, including Aleo, Polygon, Starkware, zksync, zcash, and Protocol Labs.

Working with Walden Catalyst was a no-brainer, says Shlomovits. “The team at Walden really gets what we are doing from both a technology and a business perspective,” he explains. “We were also super impressed with Walden Catalyst’s deep roots in the semiconductor industry. The firm as a whole brings so much to the table.”

As for Ingonyama’s future growth, the potential is limitless. “As long as there will be more and more ZK proofs needed in the world, we will continue to grow with that number,” says Shlomovits. “It is very clear that zero knowledge will become huge.”