Merilee Karr

Merilee Karr

International Full-time MBA, 2000
London, United Kingdom
Founder and CEO of UnderTheDoormat
Nominated by former classmate Nancy Bliss

Creating a sharing economy through a brand that customers love

With a good idea in mind – one that came to her when travelling to Switzerland, Cuba and Colombia – Merilee Karr decided to start her own business after 13 years of corporate work at Shell. Launched in 2014, UnderTheDoormat is an innovative twist on the “sharing economy”, and is staffed, thriving, and poised to grow.

“I’m passionate about creating and building a business and a brand providing an experience that customers love,” says Merilee. UnderTheDoormat presents a curated collection of homes with personality and character in London for travellers to rent for business or holiday. It combines the ease and value of Airbnb with the comforts and assurance of a hotel, improving the experience for both the visitor and the home owner.

International business environment

Using the intrapreneurial dimensions from her work at Shell to transform her skills to become an entrepreneur, Merilee’s determination and resourcefulness also ensure she always finds a way to achieve her goals. “Merilee’s hard work, tenacity, and creativity are inspiring,” says former classmate Nancy Bliss, who nominated Merilee for the alumni award. “She’s a great example of the values of leadership, innovative thought, and action. She truly embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of RSM.”

Merilee leads an international team and is already working on expanding her business internationally. She says the unique value of her RSM education is its global outlook. Merilee says her alma mater shaped her personal and professional life. “RSM gave me the inspiration and foundation to be successful in an international business environment. As my company globalises, I look back to when that all started in the MBA Class of 2000 with over 40 nationalities in our class. Now we have customers from all over the world!”

Leading a new industry

Merilee has ensured her business model can be scaled internationally, and her ultimate ambition is to create a global brand with the vision to be the global leader in the managed sector of the sharing economy. UnderTheDoormat has already welcomed more than 650 guests from 38 countries, with many excellent reviews from people who love the concept. The business was also recently featured in The Huffington Post as a great example of corporate-charity partnerships.

Apart from the business itself, Merilee also takes an active role in advocating for the sharing economy, preparing the soil for future growth by sitting on the UK government task force for the industry and meeting MEPs in Brussels on the preparation of the recent sharing economy report. Merilee attended RSM with a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship, and sits on the board of directors of the Hunger Project UK.