“Umbrellas are never around when you need one” could soon become a false statement in Vancouver.
UmbraCity, a free student-founded umbrella sharing program around the University of British Columbia campus, supplies people with umbrellas whenever they need them. Founded in 2013 and launched in late September, the company also aims to reduce the number of discarded umbrellas that line soggy streets and eventually end up in a landfill.
“It’s an amazing feeling for me to walk around and see people using our bright yellow umbrellas,” UmbraCity co-founder Amir Entezari tells Tech Insider.
The lightweight, wind-resistant umbrellas are free to rent from one of the five kiosks around the campus.
Users first sign up at one of the kiosks to get an UmbraCity card. After scanning the card, an ID-coded umbrella unlocks. When users are done, they just slide the umbrella into the return slot.
If the umbrella isn’t returned within 48 hours, a $US2 late fee is applied per day, up to the $US20 cost of the umbrella.
And if the umbrella breaks, renters can return it free of charge.
You can think of it sort of like bike-sharing for umbrellas. Sharing programs have been around for decades. And in fact, Entezari says his ultimate goal is to expand out of the UBC campus and maybe even transcend umbrellas altogether. That includes renting out cell phone chargers, helmets, and sports equipment.
“The proprietary technology behind UmbraCity can be used for various objects,” Entezari says.
First the service will need to prove its worth among some of the most fickle, opinionated people out there: college students.
At least the feedback will be honest.
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