Lightspeed Newsletter: New Solana startup accelerator has a DePIN flavor

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Welcome to Lightspeed, the newest addition to the Blockworks newsletter suite. We are Solana news, analysis and culture, all the time. If that sounds like you, we’re psyched to have you on board. Let’s get into it!

Which Solana startups are up next?

Colosseum is a new Solana startup accelerator, as well as hackathon platform and venture fund, that runs project-building contests and chooses cohorts from among the winners. 

The accelerator then makes seed investments in each of the accelerator participants in exchange for equity and potential future tokens. The Solana Foundation, a non-profit developing Solana, is a limited partner in Colosseum’s venture fund and contracts with the group to run hackathons, a Colosseum spokesperson told Blockworks. The initial hackathon counted both Solana co-founders and a raft of Solana founders as judges. 

Picture Gladiator, but instead of Russell Crowe with a sword, it’s nerds with laptops

Matty Taylor, one of the project’s co-founders, started up and ran the Solana Foundation’s hackathon program until founding Colosseum, he told me in a text. 

Given the judges’ Solana bona fides and Colosseum’s connections to the Solana Foundation, the accelerator cohort could be cast as a sort of temperature check on what kinds of projects Solana’s thought leadership is excited about. 

The answer, it seems, is decentralized physical infrastructure, or DePIN — a category which accounted for four of the 10 cohort startups. 

The winning DePINs included a DePIN financial derivatives platform, a 3D-mapping-meets-gaming startup, and a network for monetizing excess bandwidth.

One that caught my eye was DeCharge. The project pitched hardware and software for people to deploy their own EV charging stations that are then monetized through an app. This seems like a real potential use case as the arms race for electric vehicles heats up. 

Colosseum believes that “projects within DePIN are unlocking novel markets at a higher rate  than any other category in crypto,” Taylor said. 

Projects building AI-crypto integrations, a buzzy subject lately, were notably absent from among Colosseum’s cohort. Taylor said many teams used AI components in their submissions, but Colosseum is generally unsure about AI’s usefulness for crypto outside of GPU networks and, potentially, data labeling. 

And of course there was the hackathon’s grand champion, Ore — a proof-of-work currency that helped nearly cripple the Solana network for a few days in April. The project is currently in the leadup to launching a supposedly more efficient v2. 

Ore’s pseudonymous developer Hardhat Chad told me he thinks Colosseum is filling the need for a crypto-native startup accelerator — like the famous Y-Combinator, but for Solana.

“Everyone knows how important YC has been for the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem,” Hardhat Chad said in a text. “Unfortunately YC just doesn’t seem to ‘get’ crypto.”

Jack Kubinec

Zero In

It’s ups and downs for Solana’s DEXs, with top players continuing to show diverse performances, according to data from DeFiLlama.

Charts show:

  • Phoenix (red) leading with a 34.39% weekly change and a 24-hour volume of $296.34 million, representing 27.43% of the cumulative volume. 
  • Orca (green), which has a DEX TVL of $245.7 million, saw a 29.04% weekly increase and a 24-hour volume of $284.72 million. 
  • Lifinity (orange) experienced a 17.47% weekly increase, with a 24-hour volume of $189.45 million and a 7-day volume of $979.21 million. 
  • Meteora (pink) recorded a 38.45% weekly increase, with a 24-hour volume of $156.7 million and a 7-day volume of $1.465 billion. 
  • Raydium (blue), despite a 26.97% decline, maintains a DEX TVL of $969.69 million and a cumulative volume of $53.697 billion. 

Overall volumes are down, but with 10 days left in the month, significant changes could still be on the horizon. The recent jump among crypto prices on ETF speculation proves that, well, anything is possible, right?

Jeffrey Albus

The Pulse

Could this be a mobile app summer for Solana? 

Three different projects have teased mobile app plans in recent weeks — Jupiter, MarginFi, and Birdeye. Jupiter, the popular Solana DEX aggregator, has said its mobile app — “the most seamless place to trade in [DeFi]” — will be ready for beta in May. 

Meanwhile, the Phantom wallet app is sitting on the utilities top charts for the US App Store. 

This is all playing out as Solana Mobile is gathering preorders for the next iteration of its phone, which is slated to launch in 2025. 

The specifics of some of these mobile plans are mostly under wraps, though I’d expect some concrete news sooner rather than later. 

Jack Kubinec

One Good DM

A message from Kellen Blumberg, a Solana data scientist at Flipside Crypto:

Updated May 21, 2024 at 6:00 pm ET: Clarified activities of Colosseum.

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Lightspeed Newsletter: New Solana startup accelerator has a DePIN flavor is written by Jack Kubinec for

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