News / Vancouver

Entrepreneur aims to brighten up Raincouver with shared umbrellas

Move over car2go— UmbraCity is the latest sharing economy service that allows users to borrow and return umbrellas, free of charge.

A Vancouver entrepreneur has recently launched UmbraCity, an umbrella-sharing service that allows users to borrow and return umbrellas using fully automated kiosks.

Courtesy UmbraCity

A Vancouver entrepreneur has recently launched UmbraCity, an umbrella-sharing service that allows users to borrow and return umbrellas using fully automated kiosks.

Anyone dreading the wet weather in Vancouver this winter can fret no more— entrepreneur Amir Entezari has you covered.

The University of British Columbia computer science graduate has launched UmbraCity, an umbrella-sharing service, believed to be the first of its kind, which allows users to borrow and return umbrellas from automated kiosks free of charge.

The 34 year old, who now works as software developer at UBC, said he came up with the idea after getting caught in the rain without an umbrella on multiple occasions.

“I was constantly without an umbrella on campus going from building to building,” he said. “I was always that one person who had no umbrella when it was raining and an umbrella when it was not raining, so I thought there had to be a better solution for this.”

The concept is simple, said Entezari. “It basically works like a library card,” he said.

To borrow one of the service’s bright yellow umbrellas, users can sign up with an email address and a credit card at one of four kiosks on campus.

Users then swipe their credit card or student ID to borrow an umbrella at no charge for up to 48 hours. When they are finished, users can return the umbrella at any kiosk. If the umbrella isn’t returned within the 48-hour time frame, users will be charged $2 every day up to a maximum of $20.  

The company is able to generate revenue for the free service by selling advertisements on its kiosks and umbrellas.

Although UmbraCity is only available at UBC at the moment, Entezari said plans are underway to launch the service at other schools, including Langara, and eventually throughout downtown Vancouver.

Already, Entezari said the idea has proved to be popular. He said he has been flooded with requests from interested investors, as well as supporters from around the world who would like to see the service in their hometowns.

“On the first day that it started raining after we launched, there was actually a line-up outside the kiosks,” he said. “It was great to see all the bright yellow umbrellas across campus.”

Now if only there was sharing service for free mid-winter flights to Mexico.

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