“We’ve all had the issue of going from class to class and it rains out of nowhere because of the unpredictable weather in New Orleans,” explains Matthew Friedman, one team member of a soon to come umbrella sharing business on campus called “U-Lend.” Via the Tulane Entrepreneurship Club, Start Up Tulane, Matthew Friedman and friends created the idea of an umbrella sharing program. The team organically established a brand and ideas, thus “U-Lend” was born. The name suits the company’s goal: “it can expand outside of just umbrella sharing” explains Friedman. Eventually “ULend” will be a place to lend all different items, but currently the team is just working on umbrella sharing.
The idea behind the company is simple and effective. As stated by Friedman, “you can easily rent an umbrella from one of our dispensers in any of the main campus buildings and return it into another building.” “U-Lend” provides an ingenious system that allows students to avoid the stress and inconvenience of dealing with umbrellas between classes on a stormy day. “U-Lend” doesn’t want students to have to think about when to bring an umbrella, they can rely completely on their service. Friedman continued to explain that there will be an app to handle rental fees and payments. Each umbrella will cost one dollar and can be used for three hours. If it is not returned on time, another rental fee will be charged. If you don’t return the umbrella over an extensive amount of time you will eventually pay for it. Friedman also mentioned advertising opportunities via the company’s app.
Currently, the team is designing the machine and conferring with manufactures as well as the head of campus services. The school is in favor of the company as it will have a positive impact on the lives of students and improve their reputation. Friedman explains, “It is something the school needs as we live in the third wettest city.” Another team member Raymond Powerll mentioned the company has spent lots of time working with the school with the hopes of seeing some implementation of the program this semester. Additionally, the team is working on their marketing by focusing on branding, school relations, and possible sponsorships.
The plan is to begin on college campuses, as they are a favorable spot for the service due to the constant flow of people and nearby buildings they provide. Powerll explained that the issue with current programs like this is that companies attempt to create an umbrella sharing service for massive cities with limited locations to receive and return umbrellas. Additionally, these machines are large and expensive in comparison to that of “U-Lend.”
When asked about the business experience of the team, Powerll responded humbly, “We all have a little business experience”, as the team proceeded to explain the small but lucrative different ventures they had all been a part of. In terms of the future of the company, Powerll explained “our big goal is to keep this going and form a known brand; we picture ourselves outside of college and working on it.” When asked to give advice for those with hopes of becoming entrepreneurs like the team, a third member, Frank Zhang responded “start on something small; build your experience first.” “U-Lend” is a great solution to a massive problem on the Tulane campus and it will be exciting to see the program develop during the fall.
Cover Photo: Tulane News