Hey @umbrellapeeps, a few of us have been talking about your biz concept in the past week. Wondered if you’d be interested in the convo. (Also just looking for a way to try out Branch!)
Mariana started the thread:
Unfortunately making a return on the venture at this moment of time seems very unrealistic because not every person walking on the streets requires an umbrella as some of them would already be using one. So charging customers for usage should be considered as an additional revenue rather than primary.
Other revenue streams such as driving traffic to partner stores, advertising on the umbrellas and within the app could generate reasonable revenue.
Some sort of tracker system needs to enforced which tracks the number of umbrellas available at every store at a given point of time. For every few streets a store needs to stock umbrellas reducing the transportation time between stores.
Maybe first targeting the city might be an idea, the user group that needs to most 'keep up appearance' hence doesn't want to carry a wet umbrella around or god forbid wear a raincoat. Office buildings could take part in a sort of subscription; you pick up the umbrella at your public transport station and drop it off at the foyer.
I guess when you pick up the umbrella you confirm for it to be in good order. So when the umbrellas are re-distributed across the city they would have to be checked and if damaged the last user is responsible. The checking-for-damage process probably would have to be done manually? Which is annoying. If theft occurs the last user will be whipped real hard.
Like the solution for a good umbrella. The manual damage checking will put off partners because the monetary return is not high enough to motivate them to work in the best possible interest! A lazy shop keeper could say "yh the umbrella is looking fine" . When we discover the umbrella damaged both the user and shop keeper wont take responsibility. Haha at the theft solution.
Reporting damage could work, but a lot of friction for users, as you point out Kieran. I’ve been with Zipcar for a few years and always call to report disrepair. But, again, there I’m motivated by absolving myself of liability for huge costs (+ calling from comfort of dry car seat).
I’m still fixated on the UX problem of fumbling with phones and umbrellas in the rain. Think Umbrella Peeps need to promise clean grab-and-go that works every time. Think that’s a tough promise to keep.
The deeper problem regarding damage lays in durability, heavy winds force the spokes to bend slightly which overtime can lead to the umbrella being unusable. At such instances the user cannot be blamed.
Haha David, I love how you jump into the UX! #UXaddict. The first "is my startup viable?" test occurs in the idea stage.
If the number of big problems exceed more than 4/5 then drop the idea provided an easy solution cannot be found! Myself and a few other guys are talking about a deals/discovery/gaming/marketing idea at the moment, most of the problems we found an easy solution. We currently have two problems to solve. Now we can proceed to the second stage and carry out our customer validation!
In the umbrella peeps case the problems seem to be increasing and the solutions mentioned are not solid ones which have proven to be working for a long period of time. Personally in the long term I believe it is not a viable business and might be better off partnering with Boris Bikes or TFL. I wish they can prove me wrong!
I don't think it's a viable business, but it is an initiative i would want to see taking off.
A. We need some real good quality umbrellas.
B. distribution should be accessible and 24/7 - kind of like vending machines.
C. Non return should trigger something to disrupt the function of the umbrella (I suggest that it starts flipping over - how embarrassing is that?!). This will naturally encourage returns.
But none of these problems are solvable by a start up, I guess it need to come from the top when the gov becomes socialist enough. Good testing ground will be Scandinavia..
As an alternative I suggest umbrella vending machines - there is not enough umbrellas in this town!
It's a lovely thought, but there's one tiny U/X problem that I spotted immediately.
While it's perfectly reasonable to require me to walk a couple of hundred meters (or more) to find my nearest Boris Bike, requiring me to walk the same distance in pouring rain to collect an umbrella feels like it may present a problem.
Likewise at the end of my journey. Unless the drop-off point is directly outside (better yet, inside) my destination, I'm going to get wet.
Thanks for your feedback! Team Branch