Meet Ryan Downs, the president of Unison.

Tell us a little about your business. – Unison enables homeowners to access the equity in their homes without taking on debt.

How did you get started in the business? – The business I was leading, Proxibid, was acquired by a large private equity firm, and I was looking for a new opportunity with a company that (1) had a meaningful purpose, (2) had an outstanding culture and great people, (3) had the chance to reach scale and make a significant societal impact, and (4) made use of my operational, strategic, and leadership capabilities. I was referred to Unison by another former PayPal executive, and the opportunity checked every box.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? – The biggest challenge was leaving the practice of law and starting a technology company. Not only was it difficult and risky to give up a lucrative position as a partner in a law firm, but it was also challenging to learn everything necessary to lead a company effectively. It was the epitome of on-the-job training.

What has been your most important achievement professionally? – I am most proud of the work I did at PayPal. As a member of the executive team for nearly a decade, I helped PayPal go through its IPO, the acquisition by eBay, international expansion, and the high growth that made it one of the most successful fintech firms in the world.

What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? – I like to do things outside, including working around my 80-acre property, swimming in our pool, having a backyard party with friends, target shooting or hunting with my son, riding my bikes, riding horses, or driving my ATV.

What is your greatest talent that you don’t utilize in your daily work life? – I can shoot a basketball well. At my age, I am no longer fast and I cannot jump very high, but I am still able to play the game three times a week with MUCH younger players because of my ability to shoot.

What local nonprofits are you passionate about or involved in? – I am involved with NorthStar, an after-school and summer program that provides academic and other support for boys in North Omaha. I am also part of the team organizing the 2022 Nebraska Cattlemen’s Ball, an annual event that supports the Buffet Cancer Center. I also sit on the boards of Bellevue University, The Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the Maverick Venture Fund at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, and the Board of Lay Ministry for the King of Kings Lutheran Church. In addition, my wife and I support the Midlands Community Foundation, the Louisville Area Foundation, Louisville Public School Foundation, Concordia University, 4-H, and Boy Scouts of America.

What is your favorite book, or the last good book you read? – The last good book I read is called Winning on Purpose by Fred Reichheld. It discusses how businesses win by enriching the lives of their customers and thereby driving loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.

What is your favorite local restaurant? – The Boiler Room with its farm-to-table concept, regularly changing menus, and fantastic wine list.

If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so? –