Call it Murphy’s Law of umbrellas: carry one around all day and you’ll never see a drop of rain; forget it at home and you’ll be sure to get soaked. For the weather-weary folks on the University of British Columbia campus, an umbrella-sharing service has come to the rescue.
Founded by UBC alumni Amir Entezari and his business partner Babak Asad along with the university’s Alma Mater Society, UmbraCity launched in September as a pilot project. It borrows from the bike- and auto-sharing movements to add convenience to our lives while considering sustainability issues – in this case, reducing the number of broken, poor-quality umbrellas that wind up in landfills.
Umbrella seekers can sign up using a credit card which gives them access, for free, to one of 500 durable, windproof, bright yellow umbrellas available at strategically placed automated kiosks. Small computer chips keep track of who has borrowed one and when it’s returned. If all goes well, Mr. Entezari says his plan is to expand the project to downtown Vancouver and beyond. He hopes to create a revenue stream by selling ads on the umbrellas.