UnderTheDoormat is only a couple of years old. The Wandsworth business has just raised over £380,000 through crowdfunding, over 220% of its target, to finance expansion. The idea behind the business is to provide a high quality one-stop method to let out your home when you are not there. Matthew Gardiner, Director of Acquisition Marketing says, “There are over 600,000 homes in London which are empty for four weeks or more per year. Often the owners don’t realise that there is a hassle-free way to raise an income from the property. That’s what we were set up to do.”
This is another of those ideas facilitated through the digital economy and the internet. UnderTheDoormat will organise absolutely everything about letting a home out – bookings, guest greetings, insurance, professional cleaning, so that the homeowners will have peace of mind when they join the scheme.
Many people prefer staying in a proper home, instead of a hotel, it may be less impersonal, have a garden for the kids to play in, or there may be dietary requirements that a hotel can’t easily cope with, there are a whole host of reasons why staying in a house or flat could transform a good trip into a great one. The success of AirBnB is testimony to that.
Matthew identifies getting the word out as the biggest obstacle they have met so far, “A lot of people do not know that they could rent their property out when they are away on holiday or business. Even fewer realise there is a company out there that will organise everything for them. so it is important for us to let people know there is this opportunity.”
The crowdfunding target, using Seedrs, was originally £175K but in the end 355 people from 28 countries raised over £380K in 2.5 months, will be used to rapidly expand their London presence. The company also has ambitious plans for international expansion and has recently hired a COO to spear-head that growth into other cities.
Matthew says that Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce was very useful in helping spread the word about the project through their networking events, breakfasts and putting the team in contact with people who have helped the project along.
This is a startup which looks like it is really going places. Matthew says, “we’ve an asset light business, that sustainably makes use of under-utilised property, pays homeowners to go on holiday and provides tourists with a truly local experience. That’s a business model with a lot of wins in it.”
Merilee Karr, the CEO of UnderTheDoormat will be speaking at the
“Access to Finance” Wandsworth event which will take place at Battersea Arts Centre on Tuesday 27th September at 6-8 pm.
The daylong event will feature seminars and 1-1 advice sessions and participating organisations include: ICAEW, NatWest, Funding Circle, the British Business Bank, Seedrs, GLE and Start up Direct.
The evening seminar (6pm-8pm) featuring Merilee Karr will be a discussion on crowdfunding and alternative finance for SMES – Funding Circle, Seedrs, GLE and the British Business Bank will be members of the panel.