Guys, guys, guys … you know what’s a good idea?
Uber, but for umbrellas.
Well, as it turns out … maybe not.
E-Umbrella, an umbrella-sharing startup from China, has lost almost all of its 300,000 umbrellas across 11 Chinese cities in just three months.
The idea was simple: Umbrellas will be shared much like bikeshares. Except, it turns out that umbrellas can be stolen a lot easier than bikes, and if you don’t know how to return them, your more apt to leave them wherever.
E Umbrella had an investment of 10 million yuan (approximately $1.47 million USD) when it launched in April, and charged customers 19 yuan ($2.90 USD) per umbrella deposit and an additional half yuan ($0.07 USD) per 30 minutes. Stands were typically scattered across the cities near train and bus stations (some of which were outside… in the rain?) and users receive a code to unlock the umbrella after paying for it on an app. However, the startup apparently didn’t provide enough information on how customers can return the umbrellas when they’re done. “Umbrellas are different from bicycles,” E Umbrella founder Zhao Shuping told South China Morning Post. “Bikes can be parked anywhere, but with an umbrella you need railings or a fence to hang it on.”
There are a lot of ways to take advantage of the sharing economy. It just turns out that umbrellas aren’t one.