Sharing firm loses most of its 300000 umbrellas

A China-based umbrella-sharing startup has seen brighter days, after losing almost all of its 300,000 umbrellas in under three months. Sharing E Umbrella announced on Monday that they had lost almost all of their umbrellas after launching earlier this year.

They'd be charged a 19 yuan deposit fee (£2.16), and a further 50 jiao (around 50p) for every half hour of use.

According to the South China Morning Post, company CEO Zhao Shuping said that the idea came to him after watching bike-sharing schemes take off across China, making him realize that "everything on the street can now be shared". The difference between the other companies and E Umbrella is that they don't have to keep replacing the inventory because it's not returned.

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.

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. The concept was similar to those that bike-sharing startups have used to (mostly) great success.

While sharing economy platforms have exploded in popularity across China, it hasn't all been smooth sailing.

The SCMP reports that Zhao concluded that the safest place for an umbrella would be at the customer's home, where it would be safe and undamaged.

Still, the fact that most of his product has been spirited away, Zhao plans to forge ahead and expand the rollout of the program to include 30 million umbrellas throughout the country by the end of the year. If at first you don't succeed.

This is perhaps because the brollies are worth 60 yuan - more than the deposit to rent them.

As Sixth Tone notes, many cities in China experience the most rain in the summer.

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. The loss of umbrellas isn't stopping the company though.

  • Rogelio Becker