The start-up business in Japan is now gaining momentum and like most things Japanese, this ecosystem has has taken on some of the unique characteristics of these interesting nation. A new start-up company has successfully launched an umbrella-sharing service using the “internet of things” technology to reduce umbrella waste. For those of us living in Japan, we are never surprised when hearing about these unique Japan stories.
This firm was founded by Shoji Marukawa, who started the service in December and it has a mission to return all rented umbrellas, by the way the firm is called Nature Innovation Group. We sourced this article from JiJi press, The Japan Times, Business.
The Japanese word for umbrella is “kasa” and users of the service, called iKasa, unlocks the umbrella of choice by scanning the QR code on its handle and allows it to be checked out. The service is Yen 70 per day, paid via a registered credit card. The Tokyo-based company has installed iKasa spots in 100 stores around Tokyo as well as several offices.
Note there are 130 million umbrellas sold per year in Japan and 80 million are discarded, just thrown in the trash bin, according to the Japan Umbrella Promotion Association. Other organizations have tried umbrella rental services but have failed due to lower return rates but this new service seems to have a different approach and it seems, at least on fired look, the cost base is low.
The key point in making this business successful is the number of umbrellas returned. iKasa has overcome the problem of few returns as it is run like a business. The numerous other firms that tried and failed were “services” started by government or some other institution. Mr Murakawa says that he wants his firm to be the infrastructure for rainy days.