Written on the 5 March 2010
OFFERING a cheaper and faster online service for property damage claims, Don McKenzie has brewed the perfect storm with his business Stream Group, recording revenues of $7.5 million last financial year.
And he’s only 26.
Bushfires, storms and floods have kept insurance companies off their feet this last year, but McKenzie says his product makes claims easier and more efficient, acting as a ‘YouTube’ for damaged properties.
“We deal with property claims in a more trade qualified way. We put all the details online so that builders can put their tenders in and the bid can be chosen in 24 to 48 hours, rather than the few weeks it would take traditionally,” he says.
“For example, before you’d have five builders calling Mrs Jones, annoying Mrs Jones and it would take a lot longer – we’ve put the systems in place to reduce stress and make it easier for the end user.”
It is a business model that was six years in the making with McKenzie ‘lining the ducks in a row’, managing a series of different businesses in the construction and IT sectors, including InsureTech which now acts as the backbone for Stream Group.
His entrepreneurial experience goes back to age 18 when he managed his family’s home improvements business Absolutely Aluminium. It was then that builders gave him the name ‘Storm Boy’, because whenever there was a storm he would be on his bike to help clients, whether it was in Gladstone or the Gold Coast.
He then went on to start a futures, options and foreign exchange company McKenzie Trading Services and since 2001 he has accumulated nine businesses.
But the largest of these is certainly Stream Group, with expansion expected in New Zealand late 2010 and negotiations underway in the UK and the US.
“Essentially, damage claims are the same wherever you go, but whatever we do we’ll still only have one head office and it will be in Brisbane,” he says.
“To expand you can run at a loss on the day to day claims, but you need to have the resources in place so that when catastrophe hits you’ve got the resources to supply to clients.
“The way we’ll set it up is so that the Aussies can help the New Zealanders, they’ll do the same here, and international operations would work that way as we go further abroad.”