Umbrella-sharing start-up takes a rain check after losing 300000 brollies

The concept of sharing umbrellas might have not resonated with Chinese locals who failed to return most of the brollies provided by a new, venture-backed startup Sharing E Umbrella. However, only three months into starting up operations in 11 cities across China, Sharing E Umbrella announced that it lost nearly all of its umbrellas, reports South China Morning Post.

Each brolly costs the firm 60 yuan to replace, but it is undeterred - 30 million new umbrellas will be introduced to the scheme, it has said.

"We were all baffled by the model of dockless bike sharing; it made users think anything on the street can be shared now", said Zhao. "Umbrellas are different from bicycles", Zhao said.

Individuals have to pay 19 yuan, around $2.75, to rent an umbrella. Bicycle and vehicle sharing companies have been a success in most countries but the umbrella idea hasn't been bad either, with thousands of umbrellas being rented since April. "Bikes can be parked anywhere, but with an umbrella you need railings or a fence to hang it on". But the model doesn't work for everything, as one umbrella-sharing startup learned the hard way.

The umbrellas were probably taken home by people, suggested the firm's founder Zhao Shuping in an interview with Chinese website, the Paper. What's worse, in regions with frequent rain, people are more likely to just buy their own umbrellas.

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Despite the expensive teething problems, the company is still hoping to offer 30 million umbrellas across the country by the end of the year.

Chongqing-based Wukong Bicycles, for example, was forced to close down in June after losing 90 percent of its bikes within five months of launching.

Sixth Tone points out that Sharing E Umbrella, along with its 14 other competitors in the umbrella-sharing industry, might face even more problems as the weeks turn into months.

A COMPANY which handed out 300,000 brollies under a weird rental scheme has revealed they've almost all gone missing.

  • Adam Floyd