We’re living in a time where you can share pretty much anything. Ride-sharing? Hell yeah, grab an Uber. Looking for accommodation? Airbnb it, my good dude.
But not all fruits of the sharing economy reach a tasty ripeness. Some things just weren’t meant to be shared. Like, say, umbrellas.
Chinese umbrella-sharing company, E Umbrella, had a nice idea… In theory. You rent one of 300,000 brollies scattered across 11 cities for a reasonable price and return it when you’re done. Easy peasy.
The problem is, nobody has been returning them, so they’ve lost almost all of those 300,000 umbrellas in just three months. Unfortunately, instructions for returning the units were not provided clearly enough and they don’t appear to penalise users for holding onto them, so most people did just that. Whether or not they still rack up an insane rental fee is unclear.
“Umbrellas are different from bicycles,” said founder Zhao Shuping. “Bikes can be parked anywhere, but with an umbrella you need railings or a fence to hang it on.”
Launched in April, the company received a 10 million yuan ($1.9 million) investment and charged a 19 yuan ($3.67) deposit per umbrella, plus an additional half yuan (10 cents) per 30 minutes.
Users pay for the umbrella via an app to receive a code to unlock it from one of many stands available across the cities, usually close to train and bus stations.
According to Shuping, a single unit costs the company 60 yuan ($11.60) to replace and even though they’ve lost an actual shitload already, he still plans to make another 30 million umbrellas available across the country.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time umbrella-sharing has been floated as a concept. A US startup called BrellaBox pitched the idea on Shark Tank, with one panelist calling it the “the worst idea ever heard”. Haha, shit.
Good luck with your 30 million umbrellas, mate.
Source: The Verge.
Photo: South China Morning Post.