Global News

Got you covered? 300000 umbrellas stolen in share scheme start-up

Got you covered? 300000 umbrellas stolen in share scheme start-up

An umbrella-sharing start-up announced it lost almost all its 300,000 umbrellas within three months - because people kept refusing to return the borrowed umbrellas. Just under three months after launch, China-based E Umbrella has reportedly lost nearly all of its 300,000 umbrellas available to rent across 11 Chinese cities. Each umbrella costs around $9 to replace, so if all 300,000 were stolen, that would be a bill of $2.7 million.

Sharing E Umbrella's chief executive Zhao Shuping says his idea was inspired by other share schemes like bicycle hire and the idea that now anything can be shared.

"Umbrellas in China are generally quite cheap", said Kerry Allen, a China analyst with BBC Monitoring.

If you're in Chinese city on a rainy day and need an umbrella, you might be able to use an app to find one hanging on a fence that you can rent.

"We were really impressed by the bike-sharing model", he added.

The company was launched in April - with an investment of £1.1m- and by the end of last month had been rolled out to 11 cities on China's mainland, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Nanchang.

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While sharing economy platforms have exploded in popularity across China, it hasn't all been smooth sailing. But, apparently, customers have skipped the final step of then returning the umbrellas, simply keeping them for themselves.

Meanwhile, South China Morning Post reports a bicycle-sharing company in China shut down last month after almost 90 per cent of its bikes were stolen.

The same publication reports that Zhao plans to release another 30 million umbrellas across China by the end of the year. If at first you don't succeed. The umbrellas, which were placed in 11 cities across China, appear to be a success as many are renting but the big problem is that many are not returning them.

For a business that depends on rain, finding a steady profit might prove challenging.

But he may have overestimated people's honesty - or even their ability to simply keep in mind to give them back. I later thought of sharing umbrellas'. Wukong Bike, a five-month-old bike-sharing startup, collapsed after 90 percent of its bikes were stolen, reported Financial Times. Well, perhaps not everything, as nearly all of the company's 300,000 umbrellas went missing.


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