Initia: Enshrined Modularity

Initia: Enshrined Modularity

Bware Labs Team

8 min read

Initia is a Cosmos-based Layer 1 that promises to deliver yet another framework for app-chain deployment, in a blockchain industry rapidly turning towards a modular implementation.

With plenty of options within the realm of settlement layers (Layer 1 networks) and fueled by positive general market conditions, Initia is trying to bootstrap its developer activity by providing the settlement layer and much-needed developer tools and adaptability that would enhance any software development skills. It’s the GitHub copilot for deploying any modular application-specific L2 called interwoven rollups.

In this article, we will explore together the architecture of Initia, the problems it aims to solve, the context, and market conditions, and why Initia has recently gained CT’s full attention.

What does “modular” mean in blockchain and beyond?

Let’s start by understanding how it all started and how we ended up in a modular bull-cycle narrative.

You might’ve heard the word “modular” being overused to some extent in the blockchain world; whether on X, blog-post, white papers, or YouTube videos, etc… So, let’s break it down to what modular means and how we ended up in a modular narrative fest.

The word “modular” has been around for quite some time, especially in the software development industry. This idea of modularity can be traced back to the 70s with the advent of modular programming techniques and the active development of operating systems, with Unix OS being one of the first notable examples; Unix introduced the concept of modular designs; with programs structured as small, independent modules, modules that could be combined to perform complex tasks.

The modular thesis gained real traction during the 1980s with object-oriented programming (OOP) gaining popularity, further emphasizing modular development by organizing code into reusable objects with well-defined interfaces. Later, as cloud computing became mainstream, other modular technologies like Kubernetes and Docker were born.

For some of you it was boring, I know, I tried to make it short. But critical for understanding why the blockchain realm has opened its arms to modularity. The modular thesis has paved the way for the last 50 years. Looking back to 4 years ago in the realm of distributed systems, important figures were arguing that the industry should be focusing on the application layer, especially if they are willing to onboard the next 1 billion users. Happy to say that we are almost there!

What is an appchain and what does it do?

Now that we have some context for this bull-cycle narrative, let’s review a short version of the AppChain thesis and existing Web3 solutions.

AppChains have been around for some time, but we mostly referred to them as Layer-1s in the last bull cycle. We all have at least heard about Cosmos (Sei, dYdX, Injective, etc) and Polkadot (Astar, Moonbeam, Vara, etc), or Tendermint and Substrate. Both stacks envisioned 2 different worlds of interconnected application networks alike, but difficult to move outside of those 2 segregated ecosystems. The user experience was not there yet, the liquidity was fragmented and interoperability protocols were hard to manage and easy to exploit.

“An application-specific blockchain, or appchain, is a blockchain that is exclusively designed to operate one specific application instead of multiple apps like a public blockchain.”

Chat-GPT, OpenAI.

While Layer 1 protocols have been dominating the value capture narrative since Ethereum’s inception, accruing user liquidity, with Cosmos-SDK and Substrate technologies slowly making the news with notable funding rounds, organizations like Polygon and Avalanche decided to test the AppChain race with the release of Supernets and Subnets respectively. The demand was not there, plus the costs and the complexity of deploying such solutions to mainnet were considerably higher, therefore pushing Cosmos-SDK as the lead tech-stack.

However, time passed and things changed with the ignition of Layer 2s (such as Optimism or Arbitrum) and the well-received release of LazyLedger’s (Celestia) whitepaper. The barriers imposed by monolithic chains began to crumble! The developer community slowly realized there wasn’t a need to adhere to the existing scalability limitations anymore and started moving towards building sovereign, scalable, and modular app-specific chains often referred to as rollups.

“This is going to sound cringe to lots of people, but I think enterprise blockchain will be back again.” Vance Spencer, Framework Ventures

It is important to understand that the modular thesis doesn’t come to replace existing blockchain technologies but rather to efficiently combine them into powerful architecture stacks. It’s meant to scale easily both horizontally and vertically while also facilitating the development of a sustainable economic model for any ecosystem, dApp, or protocol.

The solution: Omnitia, Initia, Minitia!

Modularity, AppChain thesis, but what is Initia and what problems does it solve?

First things first, we haven’t explored the current challenges in deploying app-specific chains, so let’s understand the complexity of this process.

With plenty of technologies to choose from, there were some unskippable steps like; provisioning validators, incentivizing validators, and coordinating those validators for any software upgrade. Besides validators, several custom developments are needed, that require experienced software developers familiar with the chosen stack. On top of that, plenty of infrastructure to maintain, the need for tooling like faucets, explorers, wallets, and let’s not forget about ecosystem politics.

“There were many problems that we saw within the Cosmos ecosystem that were proliferating, such as fragmentation, many different maintainers for the same pieces of infrastructure, all these different wallets, various types of bridges for the same tokens, and it just created a pretty complex user experience and fundamentally it was pretty difficult to spin up a Cosmos chain.

Zon, CEO of Initia.

Omnitia is a platform serving as a full in-depth solution that enables developers to easily spin up new modular AppChains while ensuring that all these problems are solved from day 1. But, what is it made from?

Initia Orchestration Layer (Layer 1): Referred to as “Initia“, is the base blockchain orchestration layer that coordinates network security, consensus, governance, interoperability, liquidity, and inter-chain messaging.

Interwoven rollups deployed on Initia will benefit from key advantages of the underlying layer, and to name a few: 

  • Enshrined Liquidity: A liquidity hub with a native DEX that enables support for various whitelisted trading pairs.
  • Inter-Minitia Routing: Facilitates seamless transactions across Minitias.
  • Shared Data Availability Layer: Allows validators, challengers, and bridge operators with access to state data necessary for constructing fraud proofs against invalid rollup operations.

So Initia is essentially a hub which enables rollups to securely exchange information and value in a trustless manner, inside or outside of the Omnitia platform while abstracting gas fees. Interesting, right?

Interwoven Rollups (Layer 2s): Known as “Minitias” or mini Initias, these are Layer 2 application chains built on top of the Initia Base Chain to enhance scalability and transaction throughput.

Minitias are the technical representation of fully functional Cosmos-SDK AppChains, VM-agnostic (supports MoveVM, WasmVM and EVM), that can reach 10,000 TPS with 500ms block times, leveraging Skip Oracle Module, Celestia for shared Data Availability, Nobble integration for native USDC, IBC for Cosmos Interoperability, Multi-Wallet Support and more tooling with fancy names. And yep, no need for validators. It seems builders now only need to focus on the application layer and associated economics. Isn’t it cool?

Wen testnet?

Because we know what Omnitia is, how Initia fits into the bigger picture, and what interwoven means, we are finally ready to explore the Initia ecosystem.

With its recently announced Initiation or Incentivized Public Testnet, users, developers, and node operators alike can now play with this impressive tech built by Initia Labs. The user-incentivized testnet is designed as an interactive experience within the Omnitia ecosystem while breeding their Jennie for a potential airdrop. Farmers Init!

Besides some common Galxe-like tasks, there are plenty of interesting dApps to try, which have already been launched, or will deploy their Minitias to the Initiation testnet. Let’s take a walk through who’s building what.

  • Blakwing: A modular blockchain facilitating liquidation-free leverage trading for long-tail assets through Limitless Pools. Blackwing completed a $4.5M seed round, quickly locking in over $50M TVL. Users can earn an 89% APR BXP Yield by depositing assets.
  • Tucana Network: Tuscana Networks is an intent-centric liquidity layer, DEX, and trader-optimized L2 perpetual chain. With strict risk control and chain customizations, Tucana will bring lucrative on-chain yield opportunities and an intuitive trading experience to users from different modular networks.
  • Lunch App: A platform aiming to serve as a central hub for Web3 activities within and beyond the Initia ecosystem. It reduces friction in onboarding and using interwoven rollups through social logins and biometric transaction signing. Users can engage with on-chain activities across all Minitias through a single mobile app.
  • MilkyWay: A Liquid Staking protocol designed specifically for t he modular blockchain world. Starting with an LST for Celestia, MilkyWay has seen exponential growth, with over 156K milkTIA holders and $26.5M in TVL. The Milkyway team also announced support from Binance and Polychain as coleads in a $5M seed round.
  • Civitia: A fully on-chain gamified social experiment where users acquire land, earn yield, and compete for global domination. It seamlessly merges elements of SocialFi with DeFi and SciFi, creating a degenish experience.

More protocols or dApps will probably follow the steps of those mentioned above, as time moves one and builders will get a sense of the net benefits brought by interwoven rollups. What’s definitely intriguing here, is to notice Tier 1 investors backing protocol developers for focusing on their app-specific chains.

Initia who?

Yo, Initia seems super cool, but we only know why it was built and not who’s building it.

Well, long story short, two crypto-native co-founders, with previous experience in Web3 development gained at Terraform Labs (main contributor of Terra-Luna), decided to build a suite of developer tools that would address the gaps identified in app-chain development.

Incubated by Binance, Initia raised $7.5m in the pre-seed round, with support from Tier 1 investors like Delphi Ventures, Hack VC, Nascent, Figment, a_capital and others. Stan, a mathematics graduate from Princeton, specialized in quantitative trading and analysis and Zon, with a background in computer science and business from the University of Pennsylvania, has built a team of 20+ members to drive adoption at the application level.

What’s next?

Now, you might wonder, what’s next?

With mainnet release on the horizon, aiming for end of Q3, Initia is eagerly looking forward for continued ecosystem growth and development.

AppChains: checked. Modularity: checked. The narrative is in place. Given the BTC halving occurred nearly one month ago, coupled with the steady growth of BTC spot ETFs, it seems the bull is just around the corner, patiently waiting for its time to shine. The question still stands: Will Initia shine alongside it?

Before we go, yet one last shout out for the developers out there to consider Initia for deploying their application to mainnet and for the rest of you, don’t forget to stake with Bware Labs.

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