Jump Bikes don’t. Jump that is. But a pogo stick most definitely hops. And, if a Swedish startup has its way, Millennials will soon switch from Bird and Lime e-scooters to a Cangoroo-branded shared mobility device–a non-electric pogo stick–that is guaranteed to put a spring in your step.
It’s a spoof, right? Not so, insists the startup, which has sprung (sorry) from ODD Company of Malmö. It may be the (bouncy) idea of a branding and communications agency that specializes in viral stunts but, wait, ODD also cofounded Wheelys Cafe, a bicycle-based coffee cart business that raised $2.5 million from Silicon Valley investors and, via Indiegogo, sold $1-million-worth of these mobile cafes which are now brewing solar-powered coffee in 80 countries around the world (Starbucks is only available in 76 countries).
How to tell fact from fiction? With ODD, it’s hard. For instance, the agency recently created a viral campaign for beer-brand Carlsberg that featured sandals equipped with grass footbeds. Real, but released in limited numbers. But the company’s “Pause Pod” – a pop-up nod tent for stressed-out adults, and which made it on to the Stephen Colbert Show in the U.S. – shifted 1,179 on Indiegogo and a further 830 on Kickstarter. Stupid, but real.
A Cangoroo press release is up-front about the little-boy-who-cried-wolf potential of ODD’s involvement:
"With a lot of initial questions along the line of ‘is this for real?’, we feel the need to underline that Cangoroo is 100% real ... That the team behind Cangoroo is also running a communications agency, we see as an important competitive benefit for the future of the business rather than something we try to hide from stakeholders.”
Just in case the company next tries to claim it’s to soft-launch a fleet of Space Hoppers (actually, I’d use those) I spoke by phone with Cangoroo CEO Adam Mikkelsen while he was on a train to Gothenburg. The cofounder of ODD said he’s serious. Well, as serious as somebody happy to spend $60,000 on buying a bunch of pogo sticks and leaving them dotted around cities.
Mikkelsen said ten Cangoroo pogo sticks had been made so far–each features a front light and a digital cockpit with “jumps” traveled rather than miles–and he added that a further 500 had been ordered. They will be dropped in Malmö and Stockholm in Sweden next month before later being deployed in London, Paris and San Francisco.
Cangoroo’s pogo sticks are unlocked by a smartphone app (launching soon, says the company) and feature digital read-outs but–thankfully–they are not electric-assist. Mikkelsen is not a fan of e-scooters:
''There are something like 35 or 30 e-scooter share companies around the world, but their products are unsustainable – they have very short lives, their batteries run out, and then the e-scooters are trashed. This isn’t good for the planet.”
Mikkelsen expects the Cangoroo offering to have a per-stick lifespan of 16–24 months.
And perhaps this is all part of the Cangoroo gameplan? To get us talking about fun, healthy, and sustainable methods of last-mile transportation that don’t require rare earth metals. You know, like bicycles, or kick bikes, the next Cangoroo-branded device Mikkelsen said his company plans to release.