Lauren Gensler reveals hard-won insights into GreenSky Credit’s CEO, David Zalik in her article “Handyman’s Helper: How GreenSky’s David Zalik Skipped High School on his Way to Becoming a Billionaire”. The article, published with Forbes, reveals that GreenSky Credit’s co-founder and CEO passed on both high school and college to focus on his companies.
David Zalik may be an unusual CEO when compared to a typical Silicon Valley technology startup. The financial technology billionaire refuses to speak with the press very often, in fact, his first interview wasn’t until 2016. He revealed that he simply didn’t’ see the value in press releases and would rather focus on building his company. He is also an unusual case in the sense that Zalik not only skipped out on college, as many technology startup CEO’s like to brag, but he also skipped high school. After having such outstanding standardized testing scores, Auburn University invited him to attend classes when he was only twelve years old. After two years of classes, Zalik decided to focus on his computer assembly company, MicroTech.
The lack of formal education hasn’t slowed the CEO down, however. He sold MicroTech when he was only 22 for several million dollars. With the increase in internet and mobile apps, Zalik began a mobile and web consulting firm where he helped companies like Stanley Works and Home Depot Inc. He grew his latest venture, GreenSky Credit out of those consulting projects.
GreenSky Credit has also managed to succeed under the CEO’s leadership, despite his refusal to take outside funding for nearly ten years. After looking for external funding, he was able to raise nearly $50 million in funding and the company is valued at $3.6 billion.
The business model of GreenSky Credit is not set up to compete with banks. Instead, it acts as a technological middle man. The company uses an app for merchants that allow them to simply scan the barcode on a potential customer’s driver’s license and set up a loan. The loan is not only pre-approved, but directly approved. It also work’s in the customer’s favor since they have no payments and no interest for the first year. The company has also partnered with several federally backed banks.