Taking the idea from taxi and bike sharing apps, a group of techies in China decided to launch an umbrella-sharing app. They soon faced a big problem – most of the umbrellas went missing. The company opened up with a huge investment across 11 Chinese cities. Within a month of its launch, the company, Sharing E Umbrella, announced that it had lost almost all of its 300,000 umbrellas. The company had put a 10 million yuan investment. Company CEO Zhao Shuping told South China Morning Post that the idea came to his mind after watching bike-sharing schemes take off across China, making him realize that “everything on the street can now be shared.” Customers are required to pay a 19 yuan deposit fee for an umbrella, which costs just 50 jiao for every half hour of use. While Sharing E Umbrella gave out their umbrellas at train and bus stops, the company later realised that getting users to return the umbrellas would be a problem.
“Umbrellas are different from bicycles,” Zhao said. “Bikes can be parked anywhere, but with an umbrella, you need railings or a fence to hang it on.” While the company is in huge trouble, it makes a person wonder what made someone put huge chunks of money into something for a business that depends on rain. Obviously, finding a steady profit here will prove challenging. China witnesses most of the rain in the summertime, leaving little interest in the business during drier months. And what’s obvious, in regions with frequent rain, people are more likely to just buy their own umbrellas. Obviously, umbrellas are not as expensive commodities as bikes or cars.