When David Zalik first developed the idea for GreenSky Credit, he didn’t find many people who believed in his vision. Zalik worked overtime to find banks that were willing to lend him the startup capital he needed to get his new company off the ground. But in an environment where the big fintech companies were touting revolutionary models that would completely disrupt the entire banking industry, the bankers themselves didn’t see the wisdom in a company that only promised to do what bankers across the country already did, only far better.
What stood GreenSky Credit so far apart from its competitors, straight from the beginning, was that David Zalik never sought to overturn centuries of established banking practices. Instead, his vision was one where technology would step in to create frictionless lending and borrowing opportunities for those borrowers who were the most sought-after among lenders. This ultimately meant that Zalik wouldn’t be creating a newfangled means for people without jobs and income to magically transform into highly productive members of society; after all, this type of utopian financial fantasy was already being well attended to by the likes of Lending Club and OnDeck. Instead, Zalik would focus on high-end borrowers who were all but guaranteed to pay back their loans on time.
Zalik ultimately ended up risking his entire net worth, nearly $12 million, to self-finance the founding of GreenSky. This would turn out to be the best bet that Zalik had ever made. It also would lead to the establishment of the most successful fintech company of the last decade. Today, GreenSky Credit has more than 17,000 retail partners across the country. The company is doing nearly $5 billion in new loan origination every year. And GreenSky Credit has partnered with some of the largest and most venerable lenders in the country, including Sun Trust, Region’s Bank and Fifth-Third Bancorp.
But at the end of the day, the ultimate accomplishment for Zalik is the fact that he was right. Amid the smoldering ash heaps that are many of his short-sighted fintech competitors, Zalik has emerged victorious, showing the way towards the future of the fintech industry.