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Our Story

When you love travelling, it’s often the little surprises that make it special.

Like finding that friendly coffee shop off the beaten track, visiting a local artisan market, or stumbling across a fabulous restaurant not listed in the guidebook.

At UnderTheDoormat, we’ve worked and travelled around the world – and think the best way to discover an area’s hidden gems is to live like a local.

But without friends or family in every place, it’s easy to be just another tourist and miss what makes a city tick.

Our goal is to help people experience a new way to travel.

By staying in the homes of interesting and well-travelled locals while they are away, you can step straight into their lives and unlock the secrets of the city. Every home we feature is hand-picked for its character – in vibrant neighbourhoods filled with colour and personality.

We believe that travel should be personal, inspirational and memorable, something to share when you return.

That’s why when you open the door with UnderTheDoormat, you’re holding the key not only to a new home-from-home – but also to an unforgettable local story.

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How We Started

It’s amazing what can happen when like-minded travellers come together. Our team has lived in more than 10 (and visited over 75) countries around the world. So it’s fitting that our story has its roots across the globe.

From the concept that founder Merilee imagined while traveling to Switzerland, Cuba and Colombia, to our name which was dreamt up with Taryn and Rossana on an Italian ski lift and the Kings Road, to the first business plan – plotted out with Ben and Sarah on a London spring morning, powered by industrial amounts of tea. It truly has been a team effort, and we’re thrilled to be doing what we love – helping travellers enjoy a more authentic city experience, and homeowners to earn income effortlessly from their most treasured possession.

We’ve learned a lot along the way (we will never forget Nuria and Olesya welcoming some of our first guests) – and are excited about the adventures still to come. Today, UnderTheDoormat features a growing portfolio of homes across London, and we’re looking to expand into more cities around the world in the near future.


Our Values

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Be open

From our homeowners opening their homes, to travellers opening their guest guide for the first time and embracing new city experiences, a sense of openness is at the heart of UnderTheDoormat.

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Inspire trust

The trust to open a much-loved home to guests. The trust to look after that home when the owners are away. At the heart of UnderTheDoormat is the trust and integrity we expect from others and from ourselves.

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Share experiences

Every home unlocks the secrets to a fascinating part of the city. By sharing our guests’ experiences, we hope to inspire other like-minded travellers to create their own memorable local stories.

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Stay authentic

A rewarding and meaningful way to travel – every time. By staying in characterful, cared for homes and seeing the city through the eyes of a local, you will enjoy a truly authentic travel experience.


Meet The Advisory Board

Merilee Karr

Founder & CEO

The Catalyst

Merilee has travelled the world to over 60 countries – and feels at home in many of its major cities. A strategy, property management and partnership expert formerly working for a global energy company, she has always been inspired by authentic and memorable travel experiences. When she’s not feeding her own wanderlust, she loves hiking, cycling, skiing and taking part in the occasional triathlon.

    Warren Clayton-Howe

    Finance Director

    The Numbers Man

    Originally from Zimbabwe, Warren lived in Australia before settling in London. A highly regarded finance specialist, with experience of working for two major international banks, he has helped develop our valuation model and forecasts – and brings a huge amount of financial acumen to the business. Away from the office, Warren likes to live life in the fast lane – whether out on his racing bike, the ski slopes of Méribel or driving his Maserati.

      Ben Jay

      CTO

      The Technical Whizz

      Our head of digital Ben is a South Londoner with 15 years’ experience of building and managing global eCommerce projects. (He also knows a scary amount about IT infrastructure, SEO and digital marketing.) When he’s not knee-deep in code, he’s swapping Tooting for Val d’Isere – and hitting the slopes on his snowboard.

        James Davies

        The Property Man

        Our resident property expert has over 15 years’ experience working as a solicitor advising property investors and developers. He has advised listed companies on the purchase of trophy office blocks in the City of London as well as newlyweds buying a home. An avid sailor, he has sailed around the world via New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and the United States. When not sailing the world, he is often back in Sussex on the family farm.

          Annalie Howling

          Investor & Advisor

          The Coach

          Annalie, a lover of travel and connoisseur of Luxury & Boutique Hotels, is the founder of Incasa Consulting, and has over 15 years’ experience at the Director and Executive level of Business Development. She specialises in coaching and consulting techniques when working with board and senior level teams to overcome business challenges and create sustainable change. Also passionate about her charity work with Hire a Hero, Annalie coaches ex service personnel to help in their transition into civilian life.

            Oliver Fryer

            Legal Advisor

            Legal mastermind

            Oliver is an experienced commercial and corporate lawyer working with small start-ups to the Walt Disney Company, predominantly in the media sector. He enjoys negotiating and contracting deals of all shapes and sizes. He loves to travel and he is always planning holidays. He and his wife have been really enthusiastic participants in the opportunities arising from the sharing economy.  Oliver loves triathlons, and spends most of his summer playing and coaching his kids in cricket.

              Ryan McVicker

              Investor & Advisor

              The Specialist

              As Chief Investment Officer of Mountain Lake Capital, Ryan helps companies reach then exceed their growth potential through a combination of investment capital and corporate governance. Born an entrepreneur, he is founder of numerous companies, including property management and web development firms. An American that has spent years residing in Europe and Oceania, Ryan seeks adventure and athletic challenges across the world (Antarctica included).

                Sarah Miles

                Marketing Director

                The Marketing Guru

                Our resident marketing expert Sarah has 16 years’ experience working for multinational brands, so really knows how to bring out the best in us. She also has a natural passion for properties – and has owned, developed and managed several homes. Naturally curious, Sarah has explored over 30 countries – but her favourite place is her leafy London home suburb of Barnes. It’s also the ideal spot for scenic runs along the river, in preparation for her next 10km race.

                  Anders Kjellerup

                  Investor

                  The Global Engineering Expert

                  Originally from Denmark, Anders is the global Facilities Maintenance Director at Artelia, an engineering company which offers it's clients an original approach to engineering, project management, and consultancy. He has held various roles on a local, regional and global level. Anders is also a busy father of two, a boy and a girl, and his interests include golf, football, and fishing. He is also quite the tennis player and loves coming to London for Wimbledon!

                    Shauna Sweeney

                    Investor

                    The Creative Thinker

                    Shauna is a Business Transformation Consultant with over 15 years’ experience in delivering large change programs within complex stakeholder environments. A Chartered Engineer, her key expertise is the effective management of change and transition, and working with senior stakeholders to ensure their work programmes are delivered successfully. If not at work, you may just find her climbing Kilimanjaro, trekking around the world, or simply enjoying the bustle and buzz in her current home of New York City.

                      Nick Yoong

                      Investor

                      The Bean Counter

                      Hailing from the tropics, Nick is a Chartered Accountant who brings a wealth of experience in analysis, modelling and reporting within financial services. A lover of puns and pubs, Nick also has an incurable case of wanderlust and can usually be found eating his way through somewhere with sunshine and a sprawling beach.


                        Meet The Team

                        Richard Bridger

                        CMO

                        The Composer

                        Richard has almost a decade’s experience in brand & reputation building and marketing & communications. He ran the marketing & communications for our 2016 crowdfunding round before joining full-time in January 2017. He is currently working on his Magnum Opus: UnderTheDoormat.com 2.0, coming soon to a website near you.

                          Walter Rothon

                          COO

                          The Mechanic

                          Tradesman, Instructor, Computer Technician and over 10 years in Start-ups. Starting with a DIY Website Builder Walter was Product Manager, as well as Office, QA and Support Manager. He built a Customer Service team of 18 as Customer Operations Director before moving to an early-stage Mobile platform start-up as COO. Outside of work Walter is a triathlete and coach at a local Tri club, a scuba diver, and he cooks super spicy curries.

                            Monique Surridge

                             The  Travel Expert

                            With over 15 years’ experience in the travel and tourism industry Monique has a true passion for travel. Having worked in over 30 countries, she loves discovering new places and exploring different cultures. She is originally from the Netherlands, but has spent most of her working life in London and just finished a three year stint in Dubai. Once a keen hockey player she is now kept busy by her two young daughters!

                              Erskine Berry

                              London Director

                              The Troubleshooter

                              An experienced director who has set up and operated businesses since his early 20s, Erskine has a passion for intense, fast moving companies. Always keen to roll up his sleeves, he enjoys the balance of office and fieldwork, from fixing spreadsheets to boilers. Erskine has an MBA from Cass Business School and is a regular on the 6 a side pitch.

                                Donna McCourt

                                Homeowner Community Manager

                                The Organiser

                                Donna has many years’ experience within the hospitality industry, from budget to 5 star, independent to chain, she has seen it all. With a passion for start-ups and anything that disrupts an age old industry, UnderTheDoormat was very appealing as it gave her the opportunity to use her knowledge and experience to make a difference for a small company. Hailing from Co. Down, Northern Ireland, Donna loves to get back to Ireland as often as possible and hit the hills running!

                                  Matthew Gardiner

                                  Director of Acquisition Marketing

                                  The Conductor

                                  Identified by TTG Media as one of the travel industry's "30 under 30" in their 2013/14 "tomorrow's travel leaders" initiative; Matthew brings a wealth of travel, leisure and hospitality experience to the team including having previously worked in a digital marketing capacity for one of the World's largest hotel groups. Away from the office he is an industry ambassador for water aid charity Just a Drop and, a keen pianist, has also completed a performance diploma with the London College of Music.

                                    Hannah Loxley

                                    Customer Experience Specialist

                                    The Smiley Face

                                    Having worked in hospitality across the world, Hannah knows exactly how to work her magic to ensure a smooth guest experience. She loves the fact that at UnderTheDoormat no two days are the same, and that she gets to see so many different parts of London. New to London, Hannah enjoys using her days off to explore her favourite city, while her holidays are spent ticking somewhere off her extensive 'Places to visit' list.

                                      Olesya Ma (Kalkamanova)

                                      Marketing Executive

                                      The Storyteller

                                      A marketing and business communications specialist, Olesya is a natural storyteller. Highly qualified at universities both in her native Russia and the UK, she has lived in South London for two years – where her busy social life includes Hatha yoga, oil and aquarelle painting and long-distance running.

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