SBC News Paradox: Zachary Panos on the evolution of parimutuel betting and embracing the unknown

Paradox: Zachary Panos on the evolution of parimutuel betting and embracing the unknown

Paradox, the parimutuel, or pool-based, betting protocol where all commission is distributed to the people who bet before you, was awarded the runner-up title at the inaugural SBC Summit Barcelona First Pitch competition that saw six industry start-ups showcase their product to a panel of independent judges.

Zachary Panos, Co-Founder of Paradox, discusses his SBC First Pitch experience, what makes Paradox stand out and how the company leverages Web3 technologies.

SBC: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What’s your background? How did you get into this industry?

ZP: I started playing online poker and betting on sports when I was eight. In high school, I worked as a clerk on the CBOE floor and realised everyone was spending as much time betting on sports with each other as they were trading. At the time, I was convinced that P2P betting was the future and wanted to create a platform that facilitated this type of trading.

I went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and studied economics and psychology. I was interested in people’s decision-making processes and thought I would do psychology research.

In 2017, when I was a Sophomore in college, I got into Ethereum and decided to build a smart contract designed for betting. At the time, the technology was not ready. We ended up building 4casters, a private betting exchange for the sharpest bettors. Our software has been used to match over 100M per year over the past two years.

I have been in this industry for my entire life and believe it is a great tool for learning. It teaches people empathy — they learn how smart the public is and how little one individual knows about almost everything.

I think the market will continue to grow, and I believe peer-to-peer betting will supplement casinos/sportsbooks in the near future.

SBC: Do you recall the day you guys came up with the idea to create the company? Why did you choose ‘Paradox’ as the company name?

ZP: We were thinking about how we could bring 4casters to the blockchain but realised that the incentives were not aligned for the liquidity providers. At the time, we were into farming stablecoins on DeFi and wanted to replicate the experience. We realised nobody had tried to take a totally different approach for DeFi betting — everyone seems to be just trying to replicate traditional betting on the blockchain.

Why ‘Paradox?’ A paradox exposes the pitfalls of logic. We feel it coincides with embracing the unknown.

SBC: Can you tell us a little bit more about Paradox? Who is your potential client, and what is the gap you’re trying to fill?

ZP: Paradox is a new evolution of parimutuel betting. A 1% commission is charged on each bet and distributed proportionally to the users who had previously bet. After you bet, you earn a commission on every bet that comes after. The goal of this commission is to incentivise users to bet as early as possible. All the bets are peer-to-peer, and there are no commissions.

Shortly, our goal is to bring liquid betting markets to DeFi. In other words, the goal is to enable users to passively and profitably provide liquidity in betting markets. We are trying to target traditional DeFi yield farmers who use protocols like Uniswap, Aave, and curve. We think this will appeal to them. 

SBC: How is Paradox leveraging Web3, and why is it important?

ZP: We really resonate with the Web3 ethos of “community-owned and censorship resistance.” We think these organisations will proliferate the gambling space and we will see the next generation of platforms focus on connecting and empowering users rather than betting against them.

SBC: What has been your biggest success so far? 

ZP: Pinnacle’s CEO Paris Smith invited us to move down to Curaçao and work out of their office this winter. It has been lovely getting to know people we have looked up to in the industry.

SBC: How did you find out about the SBC Summit Barcelona First Pitch competition, and what motivated you to apply?

ZP: I am receiving the SBC newsletters and I saw the opportunity. I felt like no matter the result we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

SBC: Paradox walked away with the runner-up title. How did it feel?

ZP: A lot of doors were opened as a result of going to the conference. I am very grateful for the opportunity and experience.

SBC: How has SBC Summit Barcelona helped you showcase your product and generate leads for your business?

ZP: SBC helped us so much. I am so grateful for the opportunity. So many great connections reached out to me because I spoke about our company for five minutes on the stage. I learned a lot about the importance of being open — you never know who is going to be watching. I couldn’t imagine where we would be without SBC.

SBC: SBC is planning to continue its support of industry start-ups — what advice would you give to the companies that will enter the competition next year?

ZP: Tell a story, don’t focus on giving as much information as possible.

SBC: What was the favourite moment of your SBC Summit Barcelona experience?

ZP: Hanging out with all of the amazing people at Pinnacle. We are actually working from their Curaçao office right now.


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