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Don McKenzie, 2011 Anthill 30under30 Winner

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What is 30under30?

30under30 is an Anthill initiative launched in early 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. Each year, we invite our readers to nominate young Australian entrepreneurs deserving of recognition for their outstanding entrepreneurial endeavours. More.

Don McKenzie, QLD (b. 1983)

Name: Don McKenzie
Age: 28 (Born: February 1983)
Gender: Male
State: QLD

After a spate of natural disasters, Queensland residents are no strangers to the insurance claims process.

“I saw how much time and labour was wasted and thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this,'” says Don McKenzie, 28, who started up the Stream Group in 2006 after a series of storms in Southeast Queensland.

Stream’s purpose is to make claims less onerous by managing the process from the very first customer call until property repairs have been completed. Turnaround times, expenses and strains on policy holders all go down as a result.

McKenzie’s continued hard work and growing of a large company to even greater dimensions have earned him a second consecutive spot in Anthill’s 30under30.

Stream now manages claims throughout all of Australia and New Zealand. The number of annual claims has grown from 2,000 in 2008 to a predicted 40,000 in 2011. Revenues, which topped $8 million in 2010, are set to surpass $20 million this year.

“We are fortunate that we get paid to help people,” says McKenzie. “All catastrophic weather events are unexpected and Stream’s core strength is seizing the opportunity to help insurers and those who are insured.”

With growing natural disaster awareness and word-of-mouth marketing, Stream is gaining a reliable reputation. After Cyclone Yasi struck in February, more than 5,000 claims came in, of which over 90% have since been completed or finalised.

McKenzie also builds publicity through accolades. At the 2011 Telstra Business Awards, Stream Group won the Panasonic Medium Business Award…although McKenzie did commit, erm, a slight error of omission when he forgot to thank the award sponsor during his speech (included below). Fortunately, he got a second chance to win over Panasonic when Stream won Queensland Business of the Year later that night (you can watch him correct his gaffe here).

Of course, McKenzie wouldn’t be where he is if he didn’t know about assessing risk. A software developer, he had been working on systems for a Forex trading company when it went bust “quite literally overnight.” But he hasn’t been fazed by setbacks.

“I’m willing to try new things, and if it doesn’t work, lesson learnt,” he acknowledges, “but to create something extraordinary you sometimes need to take risks.”

Anthill asks: Don McKenzie, what motivates you as an entrepreneur?

“Long term, I would want to be remembered as someone who made the insurance process work better. I want to build the best group of people around me. I want to build to a product that best serves my clients. I want to do what others say can’t be done.”

Don McKenzie at the Telstra Business Awards

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To check out the full list of Anthill’s 30under30 winners, click here.

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