The idea for GreenSky Credit came to the company’s founder, David Zalik, as he was working as a consultant with some of the biggest names in home improvement. Zalik had noticed that the companies with which he was working, including Lowe’s, Home Depot and Benjamin Moore, were losing tens of millions of dollars each year when customers ended up being presented with final project costs that wildly diverged from their own personal estimates. He realized that if someone could provide these customers with instantly approved loans at the point of sale, many of these deals could be pushed through.
But first, Zalik would need to convince both retailers and banks that his idea was viable. Before GreenSky could even get off the ground, he would need to convince bankers to loan him the money to launch the venture. Later, he would need to convince many of those same banks that the borrowers with whom he was connecting them were good prospects for extending large, instantly approved loans.
Going all in on an idea
But as Zalik visited bank after bank, he slowly came to the realization that the idea behind GreenSky was simply too radical for the conservative tastes of traditional bankers. For starters, he still needed to develop a loan-making interface that would serve a wide variety of clients and industries. Without a ready-made demo, he found it nearly impossible to even keep the interest of bankers throughout the length of a single meeting. Eventually, Zalik realized that he would either have to go begging for money through venture capital firms or else he would need to raise the capital himself through the liquidation of his large real estate holdings.
He wound up choosing the latter option. This would ultimately prove to be a great bet. Without any equity partners, Zalik retained full ownership in the company. And this ultimately would make him a billionaire. Today, GreenSky is worth an estimated $5 billion, making it one of the most prominent fintech companies in the world. And as the company considers an IPO, the windfall could make Zalik among the richest people in the world.