Back in 2006, serial entrepreneur David Zalik bet everything he had on the future of his new startup. Called GreenSky Credit, the company represented a completely untested model that Zalik hoped would revolutionize the way that point-of-sale lending happened for big-ticket items. In fact, the business was so unproven that Zalik had difficulty finding outside financing to help him launch his business. It was for this reason that he was forced to effectively reverse mortgage his entire $12 million commercial real estate fortune, which represented the fruits of his entire life’s work to that point.
But Zalik believed strongly in the business that he was creating. Today, that $12 million bet that would have put Zalik into the poor house had he lost it has fueled what is now a company valued at more than $4 billion. This incredible rise from a tiny startup that no one had heard of to the darling of the fintech industry has made Zalik a star. But more importantly, 12 years after its founding, GreenSky Credit has introduced a completely new lending model that has proven to be eminently viable. This is especially impressive given the dismal results that so many other fintech companies have experienced. GreenSky Credit is likely to become the model upon which fintech is based well into the future.
GreenSky Credit is more evolutionary than revolutionary
One of the things that someone might notice about Zalik and his company is that both are completely devoid of the pretention and pomp that often comes with technology startups. Nowhere throughout the GreenSky Credit headquarters will one find beer dispensers, foosball tables or any of the other excesses that have become an accepted part of tech culture. At the same time, Zalik himself has never sought to violently uproot the existing banking system, unlike many of his fintech competitors. Instead, Zalik’s vision has always been to compliment the existing infrastructure through efficiency-gaining technology, connecting borrowers with lenders and adding tremendous value in the process by pushing deals through that otherwise would never have materialized.
GreenSky Credit has proved that often the biggest successes result from building on a system rather than tearing it down.