Umbrella-sharing firm in China loses most of its 300,000 umbrellas just weeks after launch

Sharing E Umbrella stated on its website that the cost of an umbrella is much lower than that of a shared car.
Sharing E Umbrella stated on its website that the cost of an umbrella is much lower than that of a shared car.PHOTO: SHENZEN SIYE APPAREL CO.

SHENZHEN - An umbrella-sharing company in China has lost most of its 300,000 umbrellas, just weeks after launching the rental scheme.

While their umbrella numbers have fallen like the rain, Sharing E Umbrella founder Zhao Shuping said the business was not over, according to local reports. It is unclear just how many umbrellas have gone missing.

Launched in April with a 10 million yuan (S$2.03 million) investment, according to local reports, the scheme had been rolled out to 11 Chinese cities by the end of June, including Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Based in Shenzhen, Mr Zhao said the idea came about as he "thought everything on the street can now be shared", after seeing the rise of bike-sharing schemes.

Under the scheme, people can borrow umbrellas for a 19 yuan deposit, with a fee of 0.50 yuan per half an hour usage, from subway and bus stations.

However, there were no clear instructions on how to return the items.

"Umbrellas are different from bicycles," local media reported Mr Zhao as saying. "Bikes can be parked anywhere, but with an umbrella you need railings or a fence to hang it on."

He added that taking the umbrellas home was probably "best", as at least they would be "safe".

While it costs 60 yuan per lost umbrella, he still plans to roll out 30 million nationwide by the end of the year.

Cities in China have hopped on the umbrella-sharing craze.

Another company, Molisan, based in Shanghai, has launched trials in Guangzhou and Fuzhou, and uses WeChat to facilitate payments, according to local media.