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Forbes McKenzie2/17/24 10:00 AM4 min read

MIS Turns 13: A Brief History by Forbes McKenzie

As the Founder/CEO of McKenzie Intelligence Services (MIS), I am immensely proud to share that we have officially reached teenager status, as today marks our 13th birthday, having first been established on 17/02/2011.  

During my time in the military, utilising the latest geospatial technology as part of our work with global governments, I saw a sizeable opportunity to bring this approach to the insurance industry to help respond to the many catastrophic events happening around the globe. After my stint in the military concluded, I took the leap in 2011 and started McKenzie Intelligence Services, named after my father, with a primary focus on using consultancy work to help build up the business.  

Much of this work involved myself and two others travelling around the world on behalf of various governmental organisations, large corporations, and insurance firms, where we quickly developed a powerful reputation for getting things done, no matter the location. 

McKenzie-Intelligence-Services-River-Satellite-Image

In 2014, we partnered with Skybox Imaging (now Planet) and became the first company to buy small satellite data sets, where selling this data to large corporations with value-added intelligence created a consistent revenue stream. This work later landed us a two-and-a-half-year consultancy opportunity with Google after they acquired Skybox, where I spent time in California to quantify our market potential and begin some early product development. 

Then in 2016, we became the exclusive geospatial imagery and intelligence provider for Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest and most prestigious insurance market, which was a major show of confidence in what we were building and the foundations we had laid in our early consultancy work. 

Having garnered attention for this work, in 2017 we were awarded a £75,000 grant to cover natural perils, which was highly successful. This led me to back to Lloyd’s, where we agreed upon a contract for MIS to provide a catastrophe intelligence platform for the Lloyd’s market. Afterwards, alongside their key heads of departments, I helped set up the Lloyd’s Strategic Claims working group. 

Undoubtedly this was a major moment in our brief history, where we took the first steps in developing our flagship product the Global Events Observer (GEO). The working group, which later became the Lloyd’s Lab, created a direct feedback loop for GEO’s development from the market it was serving, whilst benefitting from the support of internal champions at Lloyd’s. 

misgeo.io_(High Res Screenshot)

In the following two years, imagery and intelligence stayed as our core offering as building on GEO continued. In 2018, we won the British Claims Award for Outstanding Achievement of the Year, and 2019 saw us named in the Top 100 Insurtech Companies by Intelligence Insurer. 

We were very fortunate that in 2020, as the world stopped in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, we received crucial funding from the European Space Agency to support GEO’s development, having already displayed significant capabilities in early demos. This funding further improved our imagery and building exposure analysis, where the ESA also provided their data to bolster our coverage capabilities. 

Hurricane Ida Claims Layer

It seems apt that a decade into our journey, we would release the product that completely personifies everything I had envisioned when I started MIS. When GEO was launched in the summer of 2021 as Lloyd’s central catastrophe intelligence platform, having recently added drone, SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), satellite and aerial imagery capabilities, it was an incredible achievement for everyone involved at MIS. We covered 34 global peril events that year, with a key highlight being a large-scale response to Hurricane Ida. 

2022 saw us celebrate GEO’s first birthday with the addition of the Insights feature, where our post-event intelligence was applied to clients’ portfolios to help them make rapid damage assessments and expedite the claims process. We provided key support in response to the war in Ukraine, whilst covering 43 other global events, and were awarded Technology Partner of the Year at the Insurance Choice Awards. This was also the year in which we signed our first major non-Lloyd's contracts in the US and Europe

In 2023, GEO reached over 1200 users, processed its 150th event since launch and saw us respond to over 50 individual events, including the Türkiye/Syria earthquake, Hurricane Otis, and the Hawaii wildfires. We piloted industry-first ground imagery technology as part of our CAT360 initiative, extended our contract with Lloyd’s, received new investment from Maven Capital Partners, and scooped several prestigious industry awards.

Hurricane Idalia gv

Fast forward to 2024, as we celebrate turning 13, I couldn’t be prouder to say that we have grown from a company of 3 employees in 2011 to 29, servicing many of the world’s leading insurance companies, covering 113 million lines of risk and are at the forefront of enhancing disaster response and helping get essential resources to those in need. 

Thanks to all our supporters, clients, partners, and employees for sharing this journey with myself and MIS, I truly can’t wait to see what the next 13 years will bring.  

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