July 11 (UPI) -- A Chinese umbrella-renting business inspired by bike-sharing services ran into a hiccup when most of its 300,000 umbrellas ended up stolen.
Zhao Shuping, founder of the Sharing E Umbrella business, said the Shenzhen-based umbrella rental service made 300,000 umbrellas available for rental at strategic locations in 11 cities including Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Nanchang, but most of the umbrellas were stolen within just a few weeks.
The umbrella-sharing service theoretically operates by having users pay a $2.79 deposit along with a 7-cent fee for each half hour of use. It was unclear how users were meant to return the umbrellas, however, costing the company $8.82 for each umbrella that went unreturned.
Zhao, who said his business model was inspired by bike sharing services in China, said he has not given up on the umbrella rental scheme. He said the process is being retooled and he expects to expand the business to 30 million umbrellas made available at locations across China by the end of the year.