Kuek Yeong Chian had been working in Shanghai, China, for two years when he had an idea for a business, but it was something he did not think would work in Malaysia – until the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Formerly an actuarial consulting senior manager with Deloitte Consulting SEA, Kuek noticed commuters in Shanghai were renting umbrellas during the rainy months of July and August, and wondered if he could do the same in Malaysia.
“The rain was not too heavy, but the residents there had no qualms about renting umbrellas when they needed them,” said Kuek, who returned to Malaysia in December 2020.
“I wondered if the idea would work in Malaysia, where the weather is unpredictable. It can be hot and humid one minute, followed by a downpour the next – perfect weather for umbrellas.
“However, I was a little apprehensive about starting the business back then, as Malaysians were unaccustomed to using QR (quick-response) codes at that time – although e-wallets were getting popular.”
Then came Covid-19, and Malaysians were forced to scan QR codes to use the MySejahtera mobile application whenever they entered buildings.
Pretty soon, it became the norm to scan. When Kuek felt Malaysians no longer had an aversion towards QR codes, he started formulating an umbrella-sharing business called ‘Payunglah’.
“I saw the need for umbrellas, as often, commuters needed long walks to get to their final stop, mostly without any shade to protect them from the elements,” said Kuek.
“Also, there are times you accidentally leave your umbrella in the office, and then it starts to rain.
“No one will spend RM35-40 just to get a replacement.”
It took Kuek a while to get everything in place, and he launched his prototype machines at local universities, shopping malls, and hotels at the end of May 2023 before starting his service at light rail transit, monorail, and bus rapid transit stations in November.
“We have 100 machines – with 20-35 umbrellas at each stop – all over the Klang Valley. Soon, we will also be at mass rapid transit, and KTM’s Komuter stations,” said the Alor Setar native.
“Rental is only RM2 for 24 hours. You can pick up and drop off the umbrellas at any machine – at stations, hotels, or malls.
“We also have a loyalty programme, where for RM4 a month, you have unlimited rentals.”
Kuek said the umbrellas are also a big hit with tourists, with several buying them as souvenirs for themselves, or as gifts for friends.
“We have three designs. One plain blue umbrella, and two from Chuang Art Studio depicting Malaysian culture and heritage that are popular with many,” said the 39-year-old Kuek.
“We recently had a contest and picked 10 winners whose designs will be on our umbrellas.”
The next time you are out and about in the Klang Valley and need an umbrella, look out for Payunglah.com.
Covid-19 has been around for more than four years, yet many still do not know how to use face masks!
While no longer mandatory to wear one, many still walk around with their facemasks below their noses – some even below their lower lips!
It is a common sight on public transportation and also at malls. While it is advisable to wear one, why bother if you are not going to use it properly?
MORE PAYMENT OPTIONS
Most of us use the Touch n’ Go card when taking the LRT, but at times, you forget to bring it with you. Then, comes the problem of the machine rejecting your ringgit notes.
That will be a thing of the past, as soon, you can make payments via your debit card.
UNDER THE SEA ART WORKSHOP
Dive into a world of creativity with the ‘Under the Sea’ art workshop, in collaboration with Global Art Da Men Mall, this weekend and on Jan 27-28 and Feb 17-18.