Pencil News, 7/31/17
Hangzhou-based Abu Laila Technology, operator of mobile umbrella-sharing platform Abu Laila, plans to begin deploying its first set of umbrellas as part of a pilot test in Hangzhou starting this August, revealed founder Qi Zhaohui in a statement to reporters.
Abu Laila, established on May 27, 2017, offers shared umbrellas through a rack-style device, which can hold up to 50 umbrellas. The company's umbrellas and distribution stands are currently being tested internally, and the platform intends to pilot them in Hangzhou sometime in late August. Qi said that the company plans to focus initially on deploying a small number of umbrellas in Hangzhou, and that as it accumulates more usage data it will grow its business throughout the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta regions.
Users can rent an umbrella by using the platform's WeChat public account to scan a QR-code on the handle, and paying a required deposit, although the specific size of the deposit has yet to be made public. Umbrellas can be rented for free for up to 72 hours, and fees are charged at RMB 1 per day thereafter. Payment can be made using either mobile payment services Alipay or WeChat Pay. After a user is finished with the umbrella, they can locate a nearby umbrella stand through the Abu Laila public account on WeChat and return the unit. In addition, Abu Laila has partnered with consumer credit rating service Sesame Credit, allowing users with a credit score of 600 or better to gain exemption from paying the security deposit.
Qi said that the service offers traditional, long-handled umbrellas with an expected operating life of one year, and that each umbrella's cost-recovery period is approximately 3-6 months. In addition to rental revenues, Abu Laila is considering partnering with businesses to develop other revenue streams from advertising programs.
Abu Laila is currently soliciting RMB 4 mln in angel funding in exchange for a 10-20% equity stake. Funds will be used for product upgrades, marketing, and team building.