When David Zalik founded GreenSky Credit in 2006, he was nearly 100 percent sure that he had a winner on his hands. But the then-32-year-old entrepreneur was facing a market that was uncertain and a model that had never before been tested. Still, the young businessman was willing to stake essentially everything he had on the future success of his company. David Zalik had as much skin in the game as can possibly be put there.
To come up with the money, he mortgaged more than $10 million of commercial real estate, representing his entire effective net worth. Zalik could have taken on partners, but so strong was his belief in the future success of GreenSky Credit that he wanted to retain as much equity in the firm as he possibly could. This would prove to be a wise decision.
Zalik first got the idea for GreenSky Credit while working on another one of his companies, Outweb. The e-consultancy firm had a large number of clients in the home-remodeling sector. And Zalik was able to see, first-hand, the problems that this industry faced. One of the issues that Zalik saw was the constant losing of sales at the retail level to customers who had simply underestimated how much a home remodeling project would ultimately cost. It was not uncommon for customers with little or no contracting experience to underestimate the true cost of projects by up to 50 percent. When they finally were informed of the actual price, the sticker shock was frequently enough to ensure that the deal would fall through.
GreenSky Credit addresses this problem by pairing merchants with 14 of the nation’s largest creditors. Because the majority of customers for high-end home remodeling have excellent credit scores, GreenSky Credit can offer extremely attractive terms on the loans while also guaranteeing lenders a very low probability of defaults. This model has proven to be an excellent way to facilitate deals that would have otherwise fallen through.
Today, GreenSky Credit originates more than $5 billion in loans every year. Zalik seeks to grow to doing $20 billion in annual loans by 2020.