NonFungible Heroes #1: Zach Burks from Mintable

How Zach got into NFTs, the mintable story, crypto art and much more!

Philip Mohr ·  · 05/27/19 ·  7 min · 


Who are you? How did you get introduced to NFTs?

My name is Zach Burks and I have been in crypto since 2013. My first bitcoin buy was in 2012, but I didn’t really get serious until later. In 2016, I started developing on Ethereum as a smart contract developer and later that year I ended up hosting a hackathon for the Ethereum Development Community, which lead me to find about the ETH Waterloo hackathon. Long story short, that was where CryptoKitties was introduced and I got to play the beta of CryptoKitties as one of the first twenty or so people. It was really interesting to see how CryptoKitties was made and essentially became the foundation for the ERC-721 standard. That’s how I got into NFTs.

Since then all my projects have been related to Non Fungible Tokens and the ERC-721 standard specifically. Our current project mintable is I believe the most cutting edge form of NFT technology out there today.

Can you explain what mintable is and why you started it?

I started Mintable as a certification project to get certified by Consensys as an Ethereum Dapp Developer. I just wrote a ERC-721 generator, because it just needed to be a little dapp.

After that I thought, once users created a smart contract and minted the token, then they also need to manage this smart contract, so I made a smart contract manager for ERC-721s to interact with the contract, browse and mint new ones. After that simple generator and transfer functionality, I realized I stumbled upon something important. We needed this in the NFT ecosystem. So I took the idea ran with it and built Mintable.app.

Mintable now is a app that lets you very easily deploy a smart contract and mint an NFT with zero coding needed. Its simply a tool to let you create an NFT without exposing your private key, so it’s extremely safe. The beauty is that it lets you tokenize almost anything. You just upload the data you want to attach to an NFT, we host the files for you and within 5 minutes you can sell it as an NFT on a decentralized exchange.

On the other side, our manager is a tool to interact with any ERC-721 on the Ethereum blockchain. You can transfer, browse and interact with these smart contract directly from your browser with whatever wallet you wish. Even from your phone if you have a mobile wallet. It’s about the easiest way to transfer tokens. Within about 3 clicks you can transfer your NFTs safely and securely.

And then finally we are an exchange for NFTs. We are working on this right now, it’s still in beta, but the full launch is coming later this year.

Why don’t you use any decentralized file storage such as IPFS, but rather store the files on your own servers?

Currently the infrastructure is just not there. Decentralized file storage, whether it is IPFS or other forms of it. IPFS is good in some regards, but there is limitations to it. We regard ourselves more as a service provider for the ecosystem and we are not necessarily trying to be like a DAO. So for the sake of everything, our users, our costs, the speed, we are using centralized servers, which doesn’t mean that we are not open to being decentralized in the future, when the technology evolves and is more capable.

What are users minting on mintable right now? And for which use cases?

The beauty with mintable is that there is no main use case. We are trying to be as broad as possible, because it’s people that want to tokenize their content and that content could be anything from a real world item to digital photography.

Right now we are working with a company out of Denver to have real world items tokenized. When you buy that NFT with crypto, you then get the physical item mailed to your home. So let’s say you buy a tokenized certificate of a rare baseball card and afterwards you get that card mailed in the post.

Another one is art. We see a lot of artist tokenize their art, because we don’t take fees. All the other art focused platform have massive fees or some form of markups. We just want you to create things. So we only take a $2-$4 fee, one time and there is no conditions or strings attached. So we have seen a lot of artists coming over to mintable lately.

We also see business cards being made, the reason is that if you tokenize a business card, you can transfer that to other people’s wallet, where they have your contact info or any public info you want.

We have also seen real gold stored in a vault being tokenized using mintable.

We have seen many companies as well, we work with Foam.Space and they are using mintable to create badges. The creator of metamask used mintable to create badges. And the thing is, you know he could write his own smart contract, but because mintable is so easy, he used mintable.

As we get more user, I expect that there are people that will get so creative that we will have more use cases than we ever imagined.

Do you focus only on consumers or do you also offer your service to businesses?

We have an SDK, which allows every website to easily implement the mintable backend in JavaScript. We handle all the Web3 and Ethereum blockchain side for them. All they have to do is initialize the code, which is just 1–2 lines, and pass the user information via our SDK. So they don’t need to hire smart contract developers or understand how smart contracts are made. They can just plug in with our system. There is a free and paid version, if you are just using it like mintable it is free and if you are a company and you have millions of users, there is a subscription as well. So we offer services for both — consumers and businesses.

Mintable is build around the ERC-721 standard, do you also plan to integrate other standards like ERC 1155 or even standards on other protocols like dGoods on EOS? Are you a ERC-721 maximalist?

I don’t think I have heard of anyone being a ERC-721 maximalists. It’s interesting though. But no, I am most definitely not. I am a huge supporter of Ethereum, not really interested in EOS or Tron at all.

It seems like that people confuse non-fungible token and ERC-721, those are not the same. ERC-721 is just a specific way to create a non fungible token, it’s just like a $1 bill and a $20 bill, they are both currency, but they are not the same amount.

But we are not tied to the ERC-721 standard. If there is a way better standard coming out, we would probably move over as everyone else in the community would. I assume there is gonna be a lot of new standards coming out, and who knows, maybe by this time next year mintable has pushed out a new standard for 721s, because we have already created a batch mintable ERC-721, which is an interesting concept. It allows you to batch mint. I don’t think we are the first, but there is no standard form for it right now.

Crypto art seems to have gotten a lot of exposure lately. How do you see the future of crypto art?

I think, if it is presented properly, it could become really big. Right now its not, because once you buy the NFT there is nothing really to show for. So it’s still pretty young, but it has potential to be great.

If there would be something like an intermediary in the art world, that once you buy that NFT a print would be mailed to you or if you are in a physical location, the NFTs would be attached to the physical art, then it makes a lot of sense.

So if I am in an art gallery and I want to buy that print, it would make sense to me that it would come with a paper wallet with the NFT certificate attachted to it.This could become the standard for authenticity in the art world.

But currently just taking a photo of something, making an NFT out of it and calling it art is not gonna necessarily gonna take off. That’s why we are so broad at mintable, because I know that art is only one use case for NFTs.

Do you think Gas is actually a hindrance for the mass adoption of dapps on Ethereum?

The gas fee is not generally a problem for NFTs, it’s a slight problem for user adoption and usability, but it’s only temporary.

In the future, when state channels, plasma chains and sharding have been implemented fees are gonna be dramatically reduced and could easily be regarded negligible.

On the other side there are wallets that pay the fees for the users like dapper. But they are actually sacrificing ownership over the asset, unless it’s some kind of DAO. Because if there is a bug in the smart contract that is paying the gas for the user, it can end up in a problematic situation.

From my standpoint, I rather have control over my own assets and pay what I am willing to pay, instead of having a situation, where someone else or another decentralized system is controlling it. So I want autonomy without the need to sacrifice ownership.

Overall, I don’t think it will be a an issue. Vitalik also recently proposed to have a flat gas fee, to lower the fees and congestion on the network. So I think it’s just a temporary problem that we are dealing with and currently working through.

How far away are we from a dapp reaching adoption outside of the small crypto bubble and getting somewhere close to mass adoption?

I think within a year from now we will have a dapp that has hundreds of thousands of users a day. I don’t think we will have millions of users on any kind of dapp, but we will have at least one app, that has at least 100 k users a day. I am not sure that it is gonna be NFT related, even though I would like to see mintable as a growth driver for this ecosystem.

My hope for NFTs is that people, that don’t know about crypto will see an asset and want that asset like a song or something similar. And they need to start looking into crypto in order to get or use that asset. And that’s the growth of an ecosystem that we need. We don’t need an ecosystem that is very siloed, where only tokenized in-game items are popular, because then we only reach a certain subset of people.

Are there any dapps that you are using yourself right now?

I use cent, it’s pretty cool, it’s a social network. It’s not a scam and an interesting incentive system, both for content creators and content consumers. As a content consumer you can add a seed to a piece of content and 25% go directly to the content creator, but as the seed provider you receive a 75% share of the seed, if someone after you seeds the content. So everyone makes money overall and you can’t really lose money.

And of course, I also use Maker to create DAI with CDPs.

Where do you see the crypto gaming space going?

Its gonna stay around and be evolution of gaming with ownership of assets. If it’s gonna be big in 1 year or in 10 years from now, I don’t necessarily know. I think crypto in games will become the standard at some point, the same way that I think that phones will all be crypto enabled in the future. I can see all phones having a hardware wallet integrated, be able to run nodes and transact, just like any phone has Wifi or bluetooth today. When, we will see.

Thanks Zach!

Checkout mintable.app and create your own NFT now.

#Minting NFT
#NFT Interview

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