David Zalik immigrated to the United States from Israel with his family at the age of three. He enrolled in public school in Alabama, and it quickly became apparent that he was a genius. Zalik was able to blaze through school, graduating from high school at the age of just 12. He was invited to attend Auburn University where he quickly excelled at his studies.
But by the age of 14, Zalik became bored with academia. His real passion lay in starting his own company. Zalik had always been interested in computers. So, he founded a company that built computers for commercial applications. Known as MicroTech, the business had a slow but steady period of growth after Zalik had founded it from complete scratch. He worked hard, and by the age of 22, MicroTech was large and successful enough that there was acquisition interest from a number of large players in the space. Zalik sold the company for $5 million.
He then took his profits and plowed them into Atlanta-area commercial real estate. Again, Zalik had slow but steady success, eventually growing his fortune to more than $12 million by the time he was 32. But the entrepreneur had some good ideas in other fields. He wanted to create a platform that would allow for instant loans to be made to retail customers for big-ticket expenses like home remodeling projects. This is the idea that Zalik would eventually turn into GreenSky Credit. But in the meantime, he couldn’t drum up any kind of interest in the GreenSky concept from bankers.
Eventually, Zalik realized that if he wanted to get GreenSky off the ground, he was going to have to do it himself. The idea was simply too radical for bankers to extend him the loans that he needed to get the company rolling. As a result, Zalik effectively reverse mortgaged his entire $12 million real estate empire, raising the capital that he needed to make GreenSky Credit a reality.