China- A startup company that decided to rent out umbrellas, has suddenly found itself with a problem, no more umbrellas. The idea was to place umbrellas at different points around the city providing shelter to anyone caught in a downpour. With rentals being set up in half hour time blocks and small fees, the whole thing seemed like a good idea on paper.
Sharing E Umbrellas bought more than 300,000 umbrellas and launched their new company, unfortunately, they may have overestimated the willingness of people to return the umbrellas after use.
Other sharing companies inspired the idea. Companies like bicycle and car sharing services that have been successful. All the umbrellas contained GPS markers, and with a quick transaction via your smartphone, you could rent an umbrella for around 50 cents per half hour. You would select how long you wanted to use the umbrella for and go about your day.
An umbrella is a terrible thing to waste
Sadly no one thought to impose a penalty for not returning the umbrellas, and that’s where everything went wrong. People may have just forgotten to return them or decided to keep them. The chief executive of Sharing E Umbrellas saw the business providing two services. A way to provide shelter but also as an advertising platform. Each umbrella that bore a company’s advertisement was like a mini walking billboard.
The company started with an investment of $1.4 million. This means that if they replace all 300,000 umbrellas Sharing E Umbrellas will be in serious trouble. Each umbrella cost around $9 and when you need to replace all 300,000 that’s a bill of around $2.7 million.
Despite the lack of umbrellas, the company is optimistic about the future. They are continuing with the launch into more cities. They are hopeful that people will become less forgetful about leaving the rented umbrellas at home. The expanded launch will add 30 million umbrellas.