GreenSky Credit is one of the more innovative companies to have come out of the fintech industry over the last few years. Although the company has followed a very conservative business model, only going after prime borrowers in markets where there is demonstrated value creation taking place, GreenSky has pioneered a new business model, the likes of which have never been seen before.
Big bets on a sure thing
GreenSky Credit’s revenue model is so unique and the business itself so novel that the company’s founder and CEO, David Zalik, found himself having a great deal of difficulty in convincing bankers to help him finance it. Back in 2005, Zalik went on the road to pitch the idea of GreenSky to bankers and other investors across the country. But the entire business model was so unique that he couldn’t find any bank that was willing to back him. He was eventually forced to liquidate his more than $12 million real estate empire and completely fund the new business himself. This would turn out to be a huge net positive for both Zalik and GreenSky.
The problem that the bankers could not overlook was that Zalik was claiming that he could get both his lending partners and his retail partners to pay GreenSky for originating instant loans while also avoiding taking on any lending risk. The bankers and prospective investors wanted to know why on Earth any lender would pay someone to originate a loan if that party was already receiving a large amount of compensation for their services from a third party, and they had no intention of taking on any downside risk at all relating to the possible non-performance of the loans. Zalik had one answer: money. And it turned out that the company was able to generate lots of it.
The secret behind the company’s ability to get its retail partners to pay 6 percent while getting its lending partners to pay a 1 percent annual carrying fee on every dollar loaned is that all of these parties are getting additional high-quality business that they never would have otherwise had.