Stephen Kee knew it was time to leave crime-ridden South Africa, when, during a traffic jam, four men nonchalantly walked up to his car, smashed the windows, climbed inside, stole his valuables and then left.
Stephen, the 292nd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, had built a successful life in his native country, where he worked as an actuary. Sadly, though, he also experienced the daily tension of taking measures to ensure he wasn’t robbed and attacked.
So Stephen and his wife, Melissa Kam, moved to Australia about a decade ago, starting in Melbourne and then relocating to Sydney.
One of the challenges of starting a new family in a new country while building a successful career is finding a way to balance work, life and family. That was part of the reason why Melissa decided to found a business, BnB Havens, with the goal of leaving corporate. Stephen ultimately joined the entrepreneurial journey.
They’d hit upon a clever business idea – rent high-end properties, furnish them and then sublease them through Airbnb. They rented one property after another, until, in little more than a year, they’d built a portfolio of 16 properties, in Sydney and Melbourne, that was generating more than $1 million in annual revenue.
Then the pandemic hit.
No more travel meant no more bookings – and therefore no more revenue and no more business. Cleverly, BnB Havens had month-by-month leases on most of its properties, so it was able to wind down its operations in a less costly way than would otherwise have been the case.
Stephen and Melissa are very analytical people; part of the reason BnB Havens had done so well was because they’d studied the Airbnb algorithm. So, in 2021, they launched a new business that could capitalise on their mathematical brains. Kee Web Designs builds SEO-friendly websites and provides SEO services to small businesses. In other words, now they’re cracking the Google code for a living.
Stephen is a very impressive person – as, I’m sure, is Melissa. He doesn’t let obstacles defeat him, because he knows that if you work hard and take action, you can overcome those obstacles. That’s why, as Stephen was explaining the ambitious goals that he has for Kee Web Designs, I had no doubt he’d achieve them.
Stephen says he feels blessed to live in a country where he, and his family, can walk down the street in safety. He intends to make the most of his opportunity.