Under The Doormat Blog

The key to your local stay

Merilee on EURef

Headshot Photography London 0499

I supported staying in the EU. One of the foundations of the sharing economy is that we all benefit when we are open to each other, whether that’s moving freely within Europe or letting someone stay in your home when you’re away. So for me personally, it’s disappointing news.

Like all of you we’ll be keeping a close eye on how things evolve, but right now I see the vote having very little impact on us. We are a London-focused business and London will remain a great city that people want to visit. The sharing economy will continue to grow at an incredible rate, and we will continue to grow with it.

For now, we thought you might enjoy a change of topic and a little light relief.


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UnderTheDoormat’s step-by-step guide to investing


Thank you for considering investing in UnderTheDoormat. We are very excited about our next stage of growth and we’re delighted you may join us.

We understand this will be the first time many people will be using crowdfunding and we want to make sure that you feel clear about everything and comfortable about the process.

Step 1: Letting us know you’re interested in investing

We have created a pledge page as an unofficial way of letting people say they’d like to invest in UnderTheDoormat.

If you pledge a specific amount we can count it towards our target. It also means we might be able to save you some space in the SEIS scheme which is available for UK taxpayers (more on that below).

At this stage you haven’t formally invested anything and there’s no obligation that you do (though we obviously hope you will).

Step 2: Investing officially

On June 15 we will formally launch our crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs. This is your opportunity to officially invest in us.

Seedrs is a professionally-run crowdfunding platform. Before you can invest you need to sign up [link] with them.

This will include answering some questions about crowdfunding and the potential risks of investment – it’s all quite straightforward, but we recommend that you sign up before June 15 just so you are ready.

You won’t see our page on the website before June 15 as that only goes live on our launch day.

Step 3: Launch Day – June 15 Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.33.30

We will send a link to our crowdfunding page to all those who have pledged to invest. On the first day we will prioritise those who have pledged to invest already so they have the opportunity to invest first.

You can choose to invest the same amount as you pledged or you can invest more or less (we hope you do more 🙂 )

If you are a UK taxpayer: If you would like to qualify for SEIS then you must be within the first £82,500 of investment on the Seedrs website. We strongly recommend you make your official investment on June 15 to be sure of this. For more information about SEIS please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/seed-enterprise-investment-scheme-background.

If you can’t invest on June 15 and you pledged a specific amount we may be able to hold space in the SEIS scheme for you for a short period of time. Please let us know if you think you might need us to do this. If you didn’t specify an amount we can’t hold any space for you in the SEIS scheme.

Step 4: Our crowdfunding launch party

To celebrate the official start of our crowdfunding campaign we will be holding a launch party in central London in the evening of June 15.

We would be delighted if all of our potential investors joined us – but we can only send you an invite if you make a pledge.

Any questions?
We hope this has explained everything for you but if there’s something else you’d like to know please get in contact with us at investors@underthedoormat.com or 0207 952 1650.

Thank you for your interest in investing and we hope to see many of you soon!

Best wishes,

Merilee and the UnderTheDoormat team





Take me to the pledge page >>

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Meet the CEO

UTD Merilee Pic 2

Getting to know the founder and CEO of UnderTheDoormat, Merilee Karr.

Why did you set up your own company?

I’d been working for Shell for 12 years and during that time it gave me so much, but I wanted to create something new – something which could really change how people do things.

And why UnderTheDoormat?

I’ve travelled a lot in life – I lost count of how many countries I’ve visited after I hit about 70. And throughout all of my trips the best stays have been those that gave me a chance to really get under the skin of a place – to see it like a local person would.

Then living in London I could see how many homes are sitting empty while people are away, and I realised that we could let these homes to visitors and to give them a much more authentic local experience than a hotel would offer, but without the homeowner having to take care of everything themselves. And it just went from there.

Why did you call the company ‘UnderTheDoormat’? 

It goes so well with the idea that when you go away you leave keys for your friends under the doormat. It’s personal and welcoming and those are two things we really want our guests to feel when they arrive. And the concept works across all cultures.

Do you actually leave the key under the doormat?!

Haha, no! We personally check all of our guests in when they arrive and out when they leave.

What are you proudest of achieving in UnderTheDoormat’s first two years?

Oh it’s got to be the team.

Starting up a company by yourself is daunting, but I’ve been so lucky with the support I’ve had. We’ve now built a great board with huge experience in this sector and the team itself has gone from just me to 8 people now.

The most important thing for me has been to build the right culture. I want to work with people who believe in and share the company values and I’m very grateful that I do.

And the most exciting moment in a start-up?

That’s a hard one… The thing about a start-up is that everything is happening for the first time and that’s what makes it all so exciting. Our first booking, our first employee, Olesya, our first office, even our first global insurance policy – you never think of insurance as exciting but when you’re building something for the first time it is!

What do you love most about London?

Oooohhhh. Well it’s got to be the diversity and opportunities, hasn’t it? I know lots of people say that, but the possibilities seem endless in every direction in this city. London is one of the leading cities for managed accommodation in the sharing economy, and that’s because it’s a place where people are always looking for new things, for new opportunities.

What do you hate most about London?

The mayonnaise [laughs]. Seriously, what is it with English people putting Mayonnaise on everything?

Where do you want to be living in 5 years’ time?

I have no idea where I’ll be living but wherever I am I want to keep on travelling. Travelling is like an accelerated learning experience and there are still so many places I haven’t been able to visit.

What about UnderTheDoormat – where will that be in 5 years’ time?

Everywhere I hope! [Laughs]. No the natural first step is Europe – there are a lot of cities where UnderTheDoormat would thrive – my dream is to build a global brand. The concept works everywhere and with a bit of luck we’ll get to take it around the world.

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What do you love about your local area?


What do you love about your local area? Is it a place where you enjoy brunch on a Saturday morning? Or where you can get your morning fix in an independent coffee place?

 But what if no one else was living in the area? Would these places survive? Would you have a sense of belonging or feel part of a local community?

 It’s scary but true – an embarrassing number of buildings in London are unoccupied or rarely occupied; numerous major magazines have covered this topic already and you can imagine how sad it is to live in a development where there’s a sense of emptiness.

Yet there’s such a high demand and not enough homes for locals and tourists who want to enjoy that local feel. Let’s take the opportunity to revive some of these ‘abandoned’ homes and areas.

How can you help? Join, share and support.

#weareonamission #nomoremptyhomes #revivingcommunity #supportlocalbusiness


Inspired by article The London Skyscrapper that is a stark symbol of the housing crisis

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6 things you should know about our Crowdfunding campaign

1. There are many different types of Crowdfunding.

At its heart crowdfunding is about raising money from a wide range of ordinary people who believe in a business’ idea and its potential to grow.

You can crowdfund for charity, offer a product in let_your_home_piggy_bankreturn for investment (like Kickstarter does), contribute to a small loan for a business (P2P lending) or offer shares in your business in return for investment. This last type is called equity crowdfunding and that’s the type of crowdfunding we’re going to be launching.

We’re looking to raise money from a wide range of people and in return give them a stake of the company. The more you invest, the more you own.

2. Crowdfunding is massive these days

$34bn was raised globally through crowdfunding in 2015, and $2.5bn of this was for equity investments.* Crowdfunding for business became big after the credit crunch and economic downturn as small, innovative businesses found it hard to get loans from banks in the traditional way. Crowdfunding is no longer a resort though – many businesses want to use it because it’s a way to tap into the enthusiasm and expertise of small investors around the world and build interest in the brand.

We chose crowdfunding because we wanted to build a passionate group of ambassadors for UnderTheDoormat – people who see what we are doing and really believe we can go places, just like we do.

3. Early investors who pay tax in the UK are eligible for tax relief

UnderTheDoormat has been officially declared an innovative business. The UK gives tax relief to early investors because it wants to encourage businesses like ours to grow.
Early investors (in the first £82,500 raised) who pay tax in the UK will be eligible for tax relief through the Seed Investment Enterprise Scheme, which will give you 50% tax relief on your investment. We’re definitely not financial advisers so we can’t say whether this is right for you or not, but we think it’s relevant.

4. We’re revenue generating already

Many businesses who are crowdfunding are ‘pre-revenue’ and they crowdfund to help get the business up and running. We decided to get the business up and running first and – now we’ve got the foundations in place – we want to use crowdfunding to support our expansion.

In 2015 (our first full year) we had booking values of over £100,000 and this year we’re on track for over £400,000. You can see our growth in the graph below.

5. Crowdfunding is designed for non-specialists as well as the pros…

People often ask if crowdfunding is too serious and intense for them. “Do I need a stock broker?” “Is there a minimum amount?” “Won’t it be a real hassle for me to do?” (The answer to all of these questions is no.)

Crowdfunding is designed to open up investment in companies to ordinary people. A recent study by Nesta and the University of Cambridge found that 62% of investors in companies described themselves as having no previous investment experience.**

6. …and you can invest as much or as little as you want

One of the beauties of crowdfunding is that you can invest as much or as little as you’d like. A huge number of people support new businesses with small investments and they really do add up.

The average investment in a crowdfunding campaign is £2,500*** – £3,000**** but this includes large investments from professional investors. Much of the money raised from crowdfunding is from small donations from people who want to support a business and own a little bit of their success.

We’re still working out the fine details, but we expect an individual share in UnderTheDoormat will be around £25 in this round of investment, so it’s easy to own a bit of our company for a pretty small amount.

So, those are our 6 ‘must-knows’ about our crowdfunding campaign. Did we miss anything you wanted us to cover? Let us know!
And don’t forget you can pledge your interest in investing here.



** FCA

*** Forbes 

**** Businesszone

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UnderTheDoormat is crowdfunding!

We’re thrilled to announce that in June we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for our next round of growth.

The sharing economy is growing at a phenomenal rate – from just $13 billion in 2013 to a predicted $335 billion in 2025.   The accommodation sector within that is projected to grow at 31% each year over this period.

We welcomed our first guest to one of our Richmond homes just over 18 months ago and since then we’ve had over 630 guests stay with us across London. Since we started we’ve seen the number of bookings we’ve taken increase by 500% each year.

So the sector is growing rapidly and we have been too. Our next step is to raise money so we can scale our operation and keep growing at the rate we have been. That’s why we’re Crowdfunding.

If you’re interested in learning more or in owning a bit of UnderTheDoormat, please go here to let us know you’re interested and we can keep you up to date.

This is a hugely exciting time for us. We’ve built a strong business & identified our successful growth strategies; now it’s just a matter of getting the resources to implement them and scale up.

We would love for you to join us on this journey – as a homeowner, as a guest, and as an investor.


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Introducing HiyaCar!


Did you know that your car can pay itself off, fight traffic and even help to save the planet?

Thanks to car-sharing, it can!

We are pleased to announce that we’ve teamed up with HiyaCar, the person-to-person car sharing service that let’s you hire a car from someone local. Whether you’re looking for a small car for a weekend in the city, or a big-booted-beast for a week away, they’ve got you covered and they have you insured!

For our very special members, if you register now, HiyaCar will give you 10% cashback on your first car hire booked before the end of May!

Curious to learn more? Head over to HiyaCar today to sign up for free, or follow them on Twitter!



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Sharing economy allowance boost

It’s an incredible financial support announced by the UK government and we are so thrilled to be contributing to these on-going changes and our customers benefiting from the tax relief.

With ever upwards pressure on London hotel rates and a growing demand from tourist and business travellers for more immersive, local, ‘airbnb’ type of experiences there is definitely an opportunity and income to be had from renting out your home in the capital and what was missing is the government support and clarity for the short-term rentals of your home.

“… we’re going to help the new world of micro-entrepreneurs who sell services online or rent out their homes through the internet. Our tax system should be helping these people so I’m introducing two new tax-free allowances each worth £1,000 a year, for both trading and property income. There will be no forms to fill in, no tax to pay – it’s a tax break for the digital age and at least half a million people will benefit.”*

Partnering with a carefully selected portfolio of great properties; we started UnderTheDoormat 18 months ago to help Londoner’s make the most of their homes whilst they’re away; removing all the hassle from the process. All a home owner needs to do is tell us when they are spending time away and we organise everything else from bookings and guest greetings to professional cleaning, maintenance and insurance. 

The chancellors announcement last week will not only help Londoner’s to earn an additional effortless income but it will also help build a whole new sector of UK businesses like ours that are springing up to support them.

We would like to share a comment that reflects and summarises the industry mood:  “This is a colossal win for Britain. We are the first in the world to introduce a sharing economy allowance that allows individuals to earn up to £2,000 tax free. This demonstrates that the UK truly is the home of the sharing economy and leading the global stage.”*






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Experience London like a local

Stepping into the shoes of a local and experiencing London from their perspective is the most authentic experience and is often off the beaten tourist track! We help UnderTheDoormat guests create their local story and it means that local homes, businesses and hidden gems are all enjoyed and explored, helping London be that much more exciting and vibrant and sharing the wealth across the capital.

If you or someone you know is coming to London, get in touch and experience UnderTheDoormat London!



Source commentary: City Am “Outer London boosted by Airbnb”

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Veridu & UnderTheDoormat: building trust in the Sharing Economy

What does peace of mind mean to you?

Our homeowners trust us with their most valuable asset – their homes. We are proud to have a series of thoroughly developed processes that help us to provide peace of mind for our customers who rely on our competence and knowledge.

Revealing one of our key enablers is assuring that peace of mind, we are delighted to announce our partnership with ID Verification company Veridu.

Veridu ID verification: How does it work?

Very simple.

Before any booking can be confirmed users have to verify their identity. The process is simple and can be completed by the user at any point so that it doesn’t impact the overall experience of using the site.

UnderTheDoormat have configured the verification process to include social media checks, challenges to prove the user has knowledge of the accounts they’ve used, as well as email/phone number authentication and a passport upload facility to confirm identity at the check-in. These choices give the user control over how they verify themselves.

Veridu analyses the information provided by a user to assess the credibility of their identity by calculating the time it would have taken to fake the accounts. Users who successfully verify get a visible badge for their profile and can confirm their bookings.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 17.15.22

What does it mean for our customers?

♦ Homeowners have that extra layer of comfort knowing that their home is in good hands

♦ It adds security and builds trust without compromising on a slick customer experience

  Operating in the sharing economy, it’s vital for us to build trust into our platform by removing risk for our homeowners and guests. Veridu’s social identity solutions are a big step forward for us as a business in building the trust which is at the very core of our UnderTheDoormat values.
Merilee Karr, CEO and Founder, UnderTheDoormat


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