Solana has made staggering progress since it began in 2020, launched by the Solana Foundation. The team have worked on implementing improvements to the entire ecosystem, and even though cryptocurrencies have been in a bear market, Solana (SOL) made it to the top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap.
I have to say looking into it has been a thrill, and there are so many unique Solana projects that I could have included in this list. The speed and low cost offered by Solana have made it an excellent place for many projects to build, and it is just the beginning.
This article takes a look at nine of the top projects on Solana.
Before we begin, if you are new to Solana, you might enjoy watching Coin Bureau's videos where Guy explains why some call Solana the Ethereum killer.
There are so many good projects on Solana; I could have picked many more, but since we don't want this article to become a 200-page book, I narrowed it down to the nine best projects. To make it more enjoyable, we will explore projects with varied use cases to demonstrate the versatility of the Solana ecosystem.
If you want to see Guy's take on Solana projects, he also has a great video exploring this budding ecosystem:
Audius is the “next-generation Web 3 music platform.” Lookout Spotify! Finally, musicians can retain ownership of their music without the restrictions of centralised big-tech music streaming companies. Instead, Audius musicians can freely communicate with their audience, monetise, run contests and create a thriving community all from one platform with its friendly social media feel.
In 2021, Audius had just under 2 million registered monthly users but is now heading toward 8 million. What a result!
The platform has multiple benefits, but the following three demonstrate why it has become a popular place for musicians and music lovers: -
- High-Quality Sound: Streaming at 320kbps
- Free Forever: No fees ever for unlimited uploads
- Exclusive Content: Fans can easily find remixes of musician's tracks
“Audius is a brand-new streaming platform built for all musicians, not just those to labels.”
"Build a fanbase, share your works in progress, and then publish your completed tracks for all the world to hear. Create, grow, and monetise, all without the need to graduate off the platform or sign a record deal."
I won't go into too much detail since the team at Coin Bureau has done that, and you can find a fantastic video about Audius there.
Audius initially began on Ethereum but later migrated to Solana when the project needed to scale. With low gas fees, it was (reportedly) the only platform that could support Audius's substantial growth and development.
Audius extensively researched over 20 layer-1 and layer-2 scaling solutions before concluding that Solana was the best.
Another exciting project that moved from Ethereum to Solana is Helium, a decentralised internet project looking to bring decentralised WiFi to the world.
What makes Audius unique from anything we've ever seen is its creator friendliness. Artists on music platforms like Spotify are poorly compensated. On Audius, however, artists choose how and what users pay. They can create a subscription, a one-off fee or a combination. It is an incredible platform for musicians to build a brand without needing a record label.
In addition, Audius have an NFT side which creates more earning potential for musicians.
There's so much to say about Audius, and I suggest you watch the Coin Bureau video, as it's impossible to include everything in this short section.
One last piece of information is that Audius partnered with TikTok, further demonstrating the legitimacy of, and demand for, the platform. And, with artists like Katy Perry on Audius, it will surely become increasingly popular.
Next on the radar is a project you may have heard about. Raydium is an AMM (Automated market maker) that provides many use cases.
Raydium is also the DeFi project with the highest Total value locked (TVL) - currently at $27 billion, according to DeFi Llama.
On Raydium, you can access four different services: -
Many of these are self-explanatory, but let's go through them along with some benefits of Raydium.
"An avenue for the evolution of DeFi: Light-speed swaps. Next-level liquidity. Friction-less yield." (Source: Raydium)
Compared to Ethereum-based competitors, Raydium is faster and cheaper because it is built on Solana. However, what Raydium hasn't managed to create is the best DEX for Solana which is why trades occur on Serum when using Radium's swap and trade features.
What's great about trading on Raydium is that it has all the popular features of a centralised exchange while remaining decentralised. These features include order books, charting, and even limit orders. The fees depend on whether your order gets filled through Raydium's liquidity pools or Serum's order books, but they are from 0.22-0.25%.
If you prefer passive income instead of trading, you could try yield farming or liquidity providing. Yield farming opportunities on Raydium are good, and there are many pools with high TVL while still offering yields of over 65%, which is not too shabby. Regarding liquidity providing, it's straightforward to do, and you can withdraw your funds at any time. Liquidity providers earn a cut from the trading fees.
"Raydium provides Ecosystem-Wide Liquidity for users and projects." (Source: Raydium)
Raydium provides the following: -
- Order book AMM
- Best price swaps
- Permissionless liquidity
Lastly, there's the Raydium launchpad, which I won't cover in-depth since there aren't any upcoming projects (July 2023). I'll be covering a few launchpad projects later. However, if you use Raydium's other services, I would watch for exciting IDOs; they have hosted one for the much-anticipated metaverse project Star Atlas.
StepN is an exciting new Game-Fi project launched in March 2022, where players earn token rewards for simply exercising using the platform's NFT sneakers for in-game playing.
Instead of "play-to-earn", StepN defined a new category as “move-to-earn.”
It doesn't matter if you walk, jog, or run like the wind, you can make money with your NFT sneakers using the StepN app, whilst improving your health.
StepN has a two-token model: -
GST (Green Satoshi Token)
GST is the in-game utility token and reward for moving, and used for sneaker upgrades or repairs. You do not have to invest in GST, as it is purely a reward token for participation in games.
At the maximum level, you can earn GST (Green Satoshi Tokens) and decide how StepN distributes game profits. There is a broad range of sneakers, which can all earn different rewards.
Although the concept of rewarding players with GST is fantastic, I wonder about the fact that the sole purpose of GST is to help increase players' ability to earn GST. Is that sustainable? Time will tell.
GMT (Green Metaverse Token)
GMT enables you to change the name of your sneakers to a custom name, which increases the value, and gain access to high-level activities and premium game content.
GMT can help increase your earning cap for GST and enable you to mint Legendary, Epic or Rare sneakers, which you can later sell on the platform. You can also trade sneakers. After reaching level 30 in the game, players can swap GMT for USDC if they wish.
As more people become health conscious, and exercise more, StepN is well positioned to scale.
“Choose a sneaker that suits your fitness level to earn. If you’re outside the range of your sneakers km per hour, you will earn less.”
"More sneakers = more total energy (20 energy cap)"
StepN aims to incentivise millions of users worldwide to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The app has a functioning GPS system and "proof of movement" so users cannot "fake" their activity. How awesome is that? You can't watch Netflix and move your legs about and expect rewards.
The StepN app is available for Android and iOS. After downloading the app, create a wallet and choose a pair of sneakers. After that, you can start earning from the game in Solo Mode.
How Does StepN Work?
There are four levels of exercise for the game: -
- Walker: 1 to 6 km per hour
- Jogger: 4 to 10 km per hour
- Runner: 8 to 20 km per hour
- Trainer: 1 to 20 km per hour
The faster you move, the more you earn.
The sneaker's prices range from 200 GST and above. You can find the price of GST on CoinGecko. In early July 2023, the price was a lowly $ $0.01399354.
If you later want to sell your sneakers on the StepN marketplace, it could be quite profitable. There are a few pairs available for a mind-blowing 5 million GMT. At today's price ($0.2224 on 5th July 2023) that's a whopping $1,112,000!
At the lower end, sneakers start from 136 GMT ($30.24). You can also buy Gems from 1 GMT to 5 million GMT.
I'm at a bit of a loss to understand who would pay over $1 million for NFT sneakers, and why.
Reviews of the StepN app vary. Some players complained about maintenance during the day, and others complained the app lacked reliability. Some said a smartwatch would be better than tracking on a mobile. Overall, most people enjoy the game. Considering the success of Garmin smartwatches and Fitbit, StepN could be onto a winner.
It's still early days for StepN and if they commit to improving user functionality, it could be one of the most interesting projects on Solana.
4. Star Atlas
Star Atlas is a project I won't go into much detail about since we've already covered it in depth in our great article on blockchain gaming gems and our dedicated Star Atlas Review article. However, since I prefer to play video games when taking a break from crypto rather than watching Netflix, I got really excited when reading about this project.
Long story short, Star Atlas is a game incorporating all the benefits of crypto and NFTs to create an entire digital ecosystem where you can choose your path and play like it's your real life. Star Atlas is undisputably a top contender for one of the best Solana metaverse projects.
"A grand strategy game of space exploration, territorial conquest, political domination, and more." (Source: Star Atlas)
Star Atlas has two tokens, ATLAS and POLIS (the governance token), for purchasing in-game items such as NFTs.
"Star Atlas is a high-fidelity, immersive space adventure and grand strategy MMO built in Unreal Engine 5 and sustained by a real galactic economy." (Source: Star Atlas)
Hopefully, this project will live up to expectations since a game like this would revolutionise blockchain gaming and gaming in general. There are rumours that when battling, you can lose your battleships or other loot as they will be NFTs.
If you watch the trailer above, you'll notice that the game's graphics and feel is honestly the best I've ever seen. So, if you're a fan of games, I suggest you keep an eye on this project and try to get gaming early since I believe Star Atlas has some insane potential if they can live up to the hype.
It’s no coincidence that many upcoming games are based on Solana. To my understanding, as with Audius, the developers at Star Atlas did extensive research on where to build the project only to conclude that Solana is the only one capable of meeting the demanding needs of Star Atlas. Another gold star for Solanas.
5. Tulip Protocol
After losing all your battleships in the Star Atlas universe, it might be wise to return to the ground and look for income possibilities. For this, yield aggregators might come in handy.
"Solana's Yield Aggregation Homestead." (Source: Tulip Protocol)
Tulip offers vaults and pools from three different protocols: Raydium, Orca, and Saber. The yields here are good and astronomical if you go for leveraged yield farming. However, when you hear the word leverage, you need to be careful. Although the Tulip Protocol website says that the highest APY is 350%, it's inadvisable to jump in without knowing what you're doing.
This introduction to Tulip was short, but if you are into yield farming I would suggest Tulip as the go-to place on Solana.
Maps.me provides online and offline maps, and after an update and a $50 million funding round led by Sam Bankman-Fried, they now support DeFi functionalities.
Maps.me isn't a new project, but after integrating DeFi by building on Solana and Serum, it enhanced the user experience. They have over 140 million downloads and 60 million users and MAPS is the native token.
"Maps.me — not just an app but a friend in all your adventures. Download a map, choose your route, and get ready for a great journey." (Source: Maps.me)
The objective of the project is to make travelling easier.
You can gain access to worldwide entertainment details such as athletics, casinos, fitness centres, football pitches, nightclubs, swimming pools and more.
The app features hundreds of attractions worldwide, like museums, temples, castles and churches. The business section gives access to hundreds of business genres, from lawyers to hairdressers and beyond. You can also find all forms of lodging, from guest houses to top-notch hotels.
The project has a wallet for decentralised global payments and has the following features: -
- Get cashback
- Store your money
- Exchange for crypto
- Travel smart with zero fees
- Earn up to 8% passive income
- Quick and free to open an account
- Free transfers in real-time (globally)
- Pay in and out using local and international payment routes
MAP token holders can receive personalised rewards (up to 8% passive income) and promotions. They can use the app in 190 countries for all aspects of their journey, such as booking accommodation, transferring funds, managing their assets, etc.
The only downside to the Maps.me experience is the website and the app often crash. It is slow to load, and a quick Google search revealed it's a reoccurring problem. Hopefully, in time, Maps.me will solve this frustrating issue.
“Maps.me 2.0 is the ultimate travel companion and your passport to the new financial system.” (Source: Maps.me)
Here's another project built using the Serum DEX. Bonfida advertises itself as the graphical user interface of Serum, along with providing blockchain domain names on Solana. Bonfida allows trading using Serum, trading bots, perpetual swaps, name service, and an API to get access to data from Serum.
Some heavy names are backing this project, including AKG Venture and Spartian. They have a daily transaction volume of about $70 million and an all-time volume of $12 billion.
"Your Global Domain Name Provider: Establishing your identity in a permissionless and censorship-resistant way using Solana. We give the power back to our users." (Source: Bonfida)
I picked this project because some of you might be interested in the trading bots and naming services. When entering the trading bot site, you can see a few existing strategies and their performance.
If you like to create your own bots, that should be easy since Bonfida supports the popular TradingView.
Bonfida has a native token, which I'll discuss in the next section. If you like the Solana ecosystem and want a custom domain, then Bonfida is the go-to place.
As mentioned, Bonfida has its native token called Fida. Fida is the governance token and can be used for staking. Staking rewards come when Fida fees are collected and burned.
Fees gathered go to a pool that can only do two things: buy and burn Fida. I'm not entirely sure how this works, but essentially, anyone can choose to burn Fida when there's available Fida in the pool, and of the burnt Fida, 10% will go to stakers. You'll also gain access to the API and advanced analytics when staking Fida.
If you like the projects we've discussed so far and trust the Solana ecosystem is one of the best, perhaps you'd like to know how to get in on the next hot project early.
Solanium is one of the best multichain launchpads on Solana. It has completed multiple IDOs where the smallest return (measured from ATH) is currently 1.43x, while many projects have returns of 100x and even 200x. These returns might make your mouth water, so let's review how the platform works.
Solanium has a native token called SLIM, and to participate in IDOs, you need to be staking these tokens. When you stake SLIM, you will receive SLIM tokens. The amount you receive depends on how long you lock up your staked tokens.
The default period is to lock up for 365 days, which will get you the same amount of xSLIM (wrapped) as you have SLIM. If you opt for a shorter lock-up period, you will receive less xSLIM.
The system has five tiers depending on the amount of xSLIM you have. The two highest tiers provide you guaranteed participation in IDOs while the three lowest tiers only get you specific amounts of lottery tickets.
The tiers require the following amounts of xSLIM: -
- Tier 1 – 100 – 1 lottery ticket
- Tier 2 – 1000 – 12 lottery tickets
- Tier 3 – 5000 – 100 lottery tickets
- Tier 4 – 10000 – Guaranteed allocation
- Tier 5 – 50000 – Guaranteed allocation
The price of SLIM at the time of writing is $0.0360, so you can do the math on how much each tier will cost. Naturally, getting a higher level will help you since there is much demand for these projects.
You have to be quick to get in on new projects. For instance, there are no active projects currently (July 2023). To date, the launchpad has raised over $16 million.
9. Media Network
Media Network is a project I hadn't heard about until I discovered that it powers Solanart, the biggest NFT marketplace on Solana.
Media network is a decentralised content delivery network (CDN). As the name implies, CDNs deliver content from databases to the users to make it faster and better quality. You probably know we have decentralised storage services like Arweave, IPFS (Filecoin), and BTFS (BitTorrent).
However, although projects like Audius use these (Audius uses IPFS), they need a centralised CDN to distribute their content fast and in good quality. Currently, Audius uses Cloudflare, which Amazon controls. That means using IPFS doesn't solve the problem of centralisation, and that's what Media Network is trying to solve by being the first of its kind.
"MEDIA Network Token: MEDIA is the cornerstone and vital artery of the network's economy. It is the medium of exchange between clients and providers, thereby powering and ensuring the long-term self-sustainability of the protocol." (Source: Media Network)
Anyone can start streaming on Media Network, which means it's both a consumer platform and a protocol capable of integrating with an existing project.
Currently, Media Network has integrations with a few projects, including Livepeer, which I'm sure many are familiar with, and Handshake, which provides a naming service. Also, as mentioned, Media Network powers Solanart.
If You're interested in NFTs I'll tell you more about Solanart.
Solanart is the biggest NFT platform on Solana. Most well-known NFT projects use Ethereum for minting, but Ethereum gas fees can be costly. Therefore, people look for alternative blockchains to lower costs and help encourage people to participate in launches. Solana has proven to be an excellent alternative.
We have already seen many projects on Solana, like Degenerate Ape Academy, which you can trade on Solanart. I'm confident we will see more projects deploying on Solana for similar reasons.
Lastly, to wrap up Media Network, I thought I'd mention that the Media token holders govern the project. The MEDIA token is also used for network transactions, meaning projects wanting to use Media Network will need to purchase MEDIA tokens.
Top Solana Projects: Conclusion
There's no doubt that Solana is a worthy competitor to Ethereum. When researching this article, I came across many exciting projects I could have mentioned in this piece from different sectors and multiple use cases.
I can't guarantee these are the "best" nine projects on Solana. However, they are undisputably exceptional projects. Some projects left out of this list which, if you're interested in the Solana ecosystem, are worth checking out: -
- Solrise Finance
- Mango Markets
Furthermore, may I remind you not to confuse a good project with a good investment. Being on this list doesn't mean they would be on my list of best projects for investment. That's because many things determine whether a project is a good investment, one of which is valuation.
For instance, if you are considering a game in Beta, is a market cap of over $200 million correct for game years away from launch? That's for you to decide. Be sensible if the risk/reward ratio doesn't seem attractive. However, that doesn't mean it isn't a unique project, and I wouldn't want to play the game the second it's released.
"Powerful for developers. Fast for everyone. Bring blockchain to the people. Solana supports experiences for power users, new consumers, and everyone in between." (Source: Solana)
Lastly, I need to say that I'm not currently investing in any of the projects on this list; I hold the Solana SOL token, which may make me biased when talking about the whole ecosystem. Still, I also hold other Layer 1 projects and feel that Solana is a fantastic project that may snowball in the coming years.
You only have to look at the quality and number of companies exploring and building on Solana (Google, Stripe, Meta, Discord and more) to understand the growth potential.
Frequently Asked Questions
As Solana is a high-performance layer one blockchain, similar to Ethereum, any type of project can be built on Solana. Solana supports DeFi lending projects like Tulip, DEXs like Serum, Automated Market Makers (AMMs) like Raydium, Cross-margin trading platforms like Mango, Phantom is a Solana ecosystem DeFi wallet that supports NFTs and Staking. There are metaverse projects like Star Atlas and BR1 and Play-to-Earn games like StepN.
Solana (SOL) is the native token for the Solana ecosystem. The token can pass to nodes within the Solana cluster in exchange for running on-chain programs or validating its output. Another use for SOL is for the use of micropayments known as lamports. Many users use the token as a medium of exchange and hold it as a speculative investment for those who are confident in the Solana ecosystem. SOL token is also used for transaction fees and can be staked for passive income.
There are currently over 350 different Dapps and projects in development or operational on the Solana network. Solana is the 5th largest Smart-Contract network in terms of Total Value Locked (TVL)
Many popular projects built on Solana will have their tokens available on major exchanges. KuCoin is often known for being one of the top exchanges to list smaller-cap altcoins first. For those interested in DeFi and early access to tokens, the Serum DEX is the largest DEX on Solana and often supports tokens long before major exchange support.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.