NEAR Without the Noise Episode 5: Zed.Run with Travis Winn and Rob Salha


4NTS Guild recently featured Travis and Rob from on NEAR Without the Noise Episode 5. As an episode that featured an inside look at, one of the most impressive crypto-based horse racing platforms in existence, NEAR community members and general crypto enthusiasts will gain much from listening to Travis and Rob as they discuss their solution, the future of gaming and crypto, NFT’s and why they chose to build on NEAR Protocol. 

A full link to the episode can be found here

Zed.Run Is THE Place to Race User Owned and Bred Digital Race Horses 

The episode started with Rob walking through the actual product that has built: An online ecosystem of user owned and bred race horses, designed to reflect horse racing 200 years into the future, and largely inspired by the movie tron. Users have the opportunity to purchase thoroughbred racehorses, and then breed additional horses that can then be traded, raced, and (in the future) customized according to the user’s interests. 

“Horse racing is one of the oldest sports to exist, and one of the few remaining unchanging if you think about it. We did want to change that, and we wanted to bring a community driven ecosystem to a younger audience and introduce them to the world of horse racing and what it actually meant as well. That was a big motivator to us as well.”  — Rob Salha

Beyond simply purchasing any horse, horses are tokenized as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) that also contain complex features: Bloodlines, Genotypes, and Breed Types. is thus an ecosystem for users to strategically breed, manage, and race horses for REAL MONEY staked as ZEST tokens or other currencies. In simple terms: Welcome to the Digital Era of Horseracing. 

Zed Run Started in 2018, and is Heavily Crypto Inspired: 

In early 2018 the Zed team decided to go all in on NFT’s and gaming, largely inspired by the fascinating inroads that crypto kitties were able to achieve (at great cost to the Ethereum network). Rob and Travis both found the crypto community to be interested and welcoming to the idea of Digital Horse Racing. On the unique nature of building a crypto project, Travis had the following to say: 

“It’s the most intelligent community space in the world. In a lot of other industries everyone is kind of normal, and then you get into crypto and blockchain and it seems like everyone has a PhD and you kind of just walk through nodding your head saying ‘yeah’, ‘yeah’ that’s cool, that’s awesome. But it is probably the most accepting community as well. Everyone just loves learning with you as well.  

Travis Winn

This attitude corresponds to the strong focus that the Zed team placed on their community: Where an active discord, and over 150 daily races, has led to widespread ecosystem engagement across demographics and global locations. 

“Most definitely the crypto community always has someone there willing to lend you their knowledge and walk you through something, explain something to you. It is one of the most welcome communities out there, and not just from a user level, like we see a lot of new users coming into our discord and our community, and we’ve got a whole bunch of users helping that user buy their first horse or install metamask.” — Rob Salha

Zed Has Big Plans for the Future Relating to Customization, Tokenization, and Governance! 

To date Zed Run offers users the capacity to purchase, breed, and race digital horses. The stats are impressive: Over 150 races a day, and between 3 to 4 thousand races per month with hundreds of thousands of dollars bet on race outcomes. In the future, Zed plans to incorporate its own unique token DEZ into the ecosystem. Players will also be able to design and host their own races, while users can customize the saddles and other features of their horses. The full scope of ZED’s ambitious and community-focused planning can be found in the Zed Vision Paper. 

For us the most important thing was to build an awesome product first and foremost – to make sure that racing was fun, and that racing was accessible, and to make sure that breeding worked as well. For us, we went more to the entertainment side of things. We felt like that if we did focus more on wagering and gambling its a very big black hole of jurisdictions, legal and all of these sorts of stuff. As a passionate startup focused on building games and building communities, we wanted to make sure that we were focused first and foremost on the product and at the same time on the community as well. – Rob Salha

NFT’s Are In Their Early Days:

As a project focused on building an ecosystem surrounding unique, non-fungible digital racehorses, Zed.Run is at the forefront of the impending wave of NFT solutions entering the crypto space. Rob had a number of important insights on the future of NFT’s in crypto, most aptly summarized in the following manner: 

 NFT’s are only a couple of years old. We see NFT’s as a way to game in the future as well. There is nothing cooler than pouring time and energy and love into a game you are playing and then being able to take things that you earn from an ecosystem or from a game and go on and monetize it through secondary markets or interoperability as well. I don’t think the mainstream has grasped that quite yet. — Rob Salha 

And just like other technologies, the team at strongly believe that the future is on their side in terms of adoption: As more people become familiar with Web3 and more people start to understand the underlying values of ownership and distributed value embedded into NFT’s, access and engagement will undoubtedly follow: 

We haven’t even scratched the surface of what NFT’s is. Over time, the barriers will be brought down the onramps will be a lot easier and the bottlenecks will start to be removed. 

ZED and NEAR Have A Very Close Relationship:

The Zed staking and betting platform Zest is built on NEAR Protocol. Zed originally got into touch with NEAR just over a year ago, and has a fantastic relationship with them to date. According to Rob, common visions of the future, a strong focus on communities, and a win-win mentality in crypto truly ground the two projects. 

“When we met the guys at NEAR we just hit it off. It was a match made in heaven, love at first sight, whatever you want to call it. But they were absolutely so passionate about helping creators create without the shackles so to speak. We love the way that NEAR Approached us. They just wanted to get to know us, and to get to know why we were building what we were building. And to us that was really important.” – Rob Salha

As Zed continues to build out its ecosystem as defined in its vision paper, NEAR Protocol will undoubtedly play an important role in supporting the DEZ and ZEST infrastructure among other things. 

“NEAR is willing to work with other businesses, other companies, and other blockchains, to make sure that we get adoption as an entire industry, as an entire community as well. We do see NEAR playing a really massively important role into the ZED Run Ecosystem as well.”

– Rob Salha

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