Bear with me on this one.
Cangoroo is a Swedish start-up that believes scooters and bikes aren’t enough in the new world of micro mobility. So, it wants to introduce shared, app-based pogo sticks to urban areas around the globe.
The company says that its primary drivers are “sustainability”, “health” and “fun,” introducing their service to cities, schools and local communities around the world.
There has been a lot of noise surrounding Cangoroo, for obvious reasons. Who in their right mind thinks a pogo stick would be an efficient and safe form of transport?
Well, that would be Eric Calderon and his friend Adam Mikkelsen, who founded the company this year under the slogan “Jump into the future”. I had to find out more, so I got in touch with Calderon to see what this was all really about.
He tells me the service can play a central role in changing how people look at sustainable cities and stay healthy. “We aim to be a part of changing our communities for the better and prioritise an open and transparent dialogue with all parties involved in expanding to a new location.”
Like other micro mobility services, the company wants to remove cars from cities and create a sustainable urban ecosystem. Unsurprisingly, I was sceptical about how a pogo stick would achieve this in the same way as, say, a scooter or bike.
Calderon senses this, and explains the thinking behind the Cangoroo pogos. “In a market full of generic competitors, we saw an opportunity to create a micro mobility brand with an edge.”
“Both me and Adam played around on pogo sticks when we were young so we thought: ‘here’s a crazy idea, why don’t we make them shareable just like the e-scooters?’”
Well, it’s certainly different. I’ll give them that.
Just a Bit of Fun?
I wanted to understand the long-term goal of Cangoroo. Is it to operate as a genuine service? Maybe a marketing scheme? Or perhaps just a bit of fun for customers?
Above all, this is an incredible awareness campaign for the brand. This week has been dominated by the news of a startup introducing ‘pogo-as-a-service’; an absurd idea that has spread across the world. Whatever Cangoroo does from now on, it has this campaign to thank.
Calderon pitches Cangoo as a bit of everything, explaining that it can operate as a genuine service while also providing fun for customers. He agrees that the pogos – or as some call them, death traps – have generated significant awareness for the company.
“The pogo sticks won’t be Cangoroo’s only vehicles, but they are great for our brand launch and an awesome conversation starter, not just about pogo sticks but the whole micro mobility market.”
Micro mobility is getting out of hand, with cities being bombarded with thousands of scooters, bikes and, now, pogo sticks. These services were originally supposed to overcome congestion and pollution in urban environments, but they are potentially making it worse, littering our roads and causing chaos.
“In some cities here in Sweden it’s getting out of hand, with five-plus players on the streets, with e-scooters thrown around almost everywhere,” adds Calderon, who agrees with me.
This year alone, we have seen plenty of accidents with electric bikes and scooters. I ask Calderon whether he thinks that pogo sticks are even more dangerous.
“With an e-scooter you just have to press the throttle and you’re on your way. A kid can easily do this nowadays, and with speeds up to 25 km/h racing around in traffic, the accident is just around the corner, literally,” he says.
“With a pogo stick there’s a learning curve. You have to practice a bit in the start to get the hang of it. Also, you are in control, there’s is no engine, it’s fully man-powered. This makes you more cautious and forces you to get to know your vehicle in another way.”
I can understand the essence of what Calderon is saying, although the whole point of micro mobility is to ensure safe, accessible and instant last-mile transport. From my brief experience with a pogo stick as a child, I can confidently tell you that the feeling of control was absent – for the three seconds I remained on it.
This dog doesn’t know what he’s got himself into.
“The Journey is the Destination”
Calderon wants Cangoroo to be the first environmentally and user-friendly micro mobility brand. By this he means that he wants to overcome a lazy, obese and stressed population, creating a community in cities around the world.
“We want people to move around more, using their own muscle power. This is great for two things. Battling the ever-increasing obesity around the world, especially in your country,” he says.
This is the other side of micro mobility that we don’t talk about enough and, in this case, Cangoroo certainly delivers on this front. If you manage to stay on the pogo the entire time.
I think, from Cangoroo’s point of view, it’s not so much as the destination but the journey, from both a business and pogo point-of-view.
“We know an electric powered vehicle will take you to your workplace or meeting faster than a pogo stick or a human powered scooter, but are those saved minutes really worth it?” questions Calderon. “We’re rushing through our lives trying to optimise everything. And for what? We believe that all this optimising makes us stressed and also makes us forget that the journey is the destination.”
With talk of additional launches in San Francisco and London by the end of the summer, followed by Austin, Seattle and New York, will we have a new health-inspired service or just another piece of dangerous metal clogging up and endangering our cities?
I’ll let you be the judge.