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Utah Business

mtnDAO, the organization behind the crypto app used to buy a protein bar is creating even more innovation in Utah.

mtnDAO held a Solana hackathon in Salt Lake City

According to Solana.News, Utah Rep. John Curtis used a locally made crypto app to buy a protein bar—but this is just one of the innovations to come out of mtnDAO, a month-long hackathon for Solana developers. 

Organized and hosted by @cypher_protocol and @marginfi, the event was held at The Shop co-working space in downtown Salt Lake City and featured panel discussions, workshops, ski trips, Friday evening events, and even a Utah Jazz game.

While there were many social events on the agenda, collaboration with other Solana innovators as part of a “hacker house” was the main goal. Sam Mehr, a blockchain attorney and one of the organizers of the event, says the month was all about building a framework for collaboration and then letting people build from the inside.

About 175 people participated in mtnDAO, with about 30 staying in residence for the entire month. Getting all those people together is huge for new developments, collaborations, and ideas that spawn out of these gatherings, Mehr says. “A lot of us interact on Twitter and Discord, but there’s just that element that can’t be replaced in regards to being in-person and hacking away together until 2, 3, 4 in the morning, with someone next to you looking at your code, you looking at their code, or you’re whiteboarding together. It’s that energy that you feed off of that can’t be replicated online.”

At mtnDAO, two developers built mtnPay, an iOS point-of-sale app for Solana Pay that claims to integrate with Square, in just in 48 hours, according to tweets from its creators. It was that app that Rep. John Curtis used to pay for the aforementioned protein bar. Other developments included a stablecoin called Bucket, aiming to “create a seamless stablecoin experience across Solana.”

Also on the docket: bounties from PsyOptions, Zeta Markets, and Grape. Crypto bounty programs are incentives offered to people for completing tasks for a particular blockchain or cryptocurrency platform, and there was plenty of that going on during the month!

Though the blockchain has yet to hit mainstream appeal, developers are forming tightknit communities to build upon it. “I think that’s the beauty of blockchain right now: the communities are so small and tight, right? We’re all trying to figure out where this is going,” Mehr says. “We’re trying to do our best to work together to build cool things that actually benefit society, and because we come from such diverse backgrounds, we’re looking for something new. 

“All we want to do is help others get the same opportunity as us. So when I say WAGMI [text speak for ‘we are all gonna make it’], it really is this idea of trying to help everybody. If you’re passionate about this space, then you’re gonna meet people with open arms who will do whatever they have to to make sure you feel welcomed.”

And the event brought more companies to Utah… permanently. Mehr says that, over the course of the month, five of the 175 attendees signed leases in Utah. “I think a lot of people get surprised by Utah in a lot of ways. All the elements you need are here. It’s just the perfect place to be,” Mehr says. “I do think that the secret is getting out. I think it’s going to only grow from here.”

The plan is to hold mtnDAO in Utah every February, Mehr says, adding that he hopes it can be even “bigger and better” in the years to come. Beyond Salt Lake City, Solana hosted a Solana Hacker House Inaugural World Tour from February to March, with Los Angeles, Seattle, and overseas events. Since then, more hacker houses have been announced in cities like New York City and Miami.

Salt Lake City might not have the population of Los Angeles, New York City, or Miami, or the tech history of Seattle, but it’s on its way to that conversation, Mehr says. “It’s not the most populous state. It’s not San Fran, it’s not LA, it’s not New York, but it’s growing extremely fast, and you get this feeling that you’re helping create something, and I think that just fuels you. 

“I think it gives you this appreciation for what it means to create something. It’s a lot easier to pursue something when you can feel and see the impact your work’s having, and I think that’s what’s unique about Utah. If you want to be active in the development of the city you can be, and I think you take that perspective into your work.”