Why this umbrella sharing start-up hasn’t exactly gone to plan

The sharing economy has become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon: just think of the huge success of everything from Uber to Boris bikes.

However, not all ideas will be quite so successful in the sharing economy, like this unfortunate umbrella start-up in China.

The concept of Sharing E Umbrella is simple: you put down a small deposit to rent an umbrella by the hour, which you can pick up from various locations around the 11 cities they are in.

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The deposit costs 19 yuan (£2.16) and charges a fee of 0.50 yuan (six pence) every 30 minutes. Not exactly the steepest of prices, and it turns out that many people weren’t too upset about losing their deposit.

In fact, the company has apparently lost most of the 300,000 umbrellas made available to the public since the launch in April, according to the South China Morning Post.

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The company was founded by Zhao Shuping, who the South China Morning Post reports as saying he “thought that everything on the street can now be shared”, after being inspired by China’s successful bike-sharing model.

Such a set-back as losing nearly all of your inventory doesn’t seem to be deterring Zhao. Instead, he apparently still plans to make 30 million umbrellas available across China by the end of the year. Considering each lost umbrella costs the company 60 yuan (£6.84) to replace, it is definitely an ambitious target.

You’ve got to respect the optimism.


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