Los Angeles

BUSINESS: Consumer lending



2013 REVENUE: $29.1 million

Responses from Chief Executive Douglas Merrill:

What did you do to achieve the company’s growth?

Three things have had a huge impact on our success: We’ve hired a tremendous team, we’ve stayed true to our mission, and we’ve focused on one product and getting that one product right before we started thinking about expanding our lines of business.

How did you manage the growing workload? For example, did you have to add space or move into new facilities?

We have moved facilities a few times to accommodate our growth on head count. We’ve been in our current location almost two years now and plan on staying here for a while. When we hire people, we focus not just on what we need done at that moment but also hire for what we will need done in the future. Our hiring practice looks to find people that we can leverage across the organization. Lastly, we’re diligent about making sure that we leverage technology as much as possible, building efficiencies directly into our processes.

What was the biggest challenge for your staff?

It’s currently a tie between building an operational infrastructure that’s scalable in an efficient manner and having the technology team keep up with the pace of development that the business was asking for.

Do you plan on continuing a fast-growth path or has the time come to slow down a bit?

We don’t have any plans to slow down. Our core business is performing really well and we’re looking to grow that over the next year. ZestFinance also is at a point where we feel comfortable focusing on other business opportunities so we expect growth in those areas over the next year.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the last three years?

It’s important to stay balanced. Startups have a lot of ups and downs associated with them. If your company is going to have long-term success, it’s important to not get too caught up in either extreme.

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