Is Malmö’s pogo stick e-mobility startup for real?

Cangaroo, the Malmö-based startup offering to hire pogo sticks through an app won viral coverage. But is it for real? The Local tracked down Adam Mikkelsen, founder of ODD Company, the "super-creative PR company" behind it, to find out.

Is Malmö's pogo stick e-mobility startup for real?
Adam Mikkelsen (centre) with the rest of the Cangaroo team. Photo: ODD Company
The Malmö company's innovative addition to the last mile e-mobility sector has been covered by the The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Huffpost, CNN, and our sister site The Local France, although from the start sceptical voices were raised. 
At the height of its viral coverage in May, the company put out a public statement insisting that the company was not a PR stunt.  
“With a lot of initial questions along the line of 'is this for real?', we feel the need to underline that Cangaroo is 100% real,” it said in a statement.  
But when The Local spoke to him, Mikkelsen admitted that the initial idea had been to make a stir and get a point across. 
“It definitely started as some statement, I wouldn't say against, but in the micro mobility movement,” he said. “And a lot of things we do tend to divide the crowd, with 50 percent saying 'is this real?' and the other half wanting to try them out.” 
He said that articles talking about the company dumping tens of thousands pogo sticks in cities across the world as e-scooter companies like Lime and Voi have done, are “delusional”. 
“With the Cangaroo, I would definitely see it as a success even if we only managed to put out ten pogo sticks in two cities and then we're out of money,” he admitted. 
“But we're not about making a statement by just making something up and not doing it, because then we might as well announce that we're doing flying cars or whatever.” 
Adam Mikkelsen (right) with a prototype Cangaroo. Photo: ODD company
If the handful of pogo sticks the company hopes to release in Malmö in August are well received (and that is quite a big 'if'), Mikkelsen claimed he and the PR bureau aim to stick with the company. 
“If everything is running smoothly and the demand and feedback is great, then we would absolutely continue to scale and expand like any startup would do,” he said. 
The company, like its 2017 'Pause Pod' relaxation tent, have been developed by the company's ODD lab, which it uses for experimental projects that are not for real clients. 
The Pause Pod relaxation tent the company released in 2017 raised 960,244 Swedish kronor on Kickstarter and then sold about 2,500 tents before ODD wound the company up. But it got massive media coverage. 
In the past the company has created similar viral 'product ideas' for commercial clients, such as the Somersby grass slippers for Carlsberg, or the Hug Trench for the fashion brand Monki. 
Mikkelsen said that even though both the Pause Pod and Cangaroo were part of the company's ODD Lab, and not for any particular client, the company aimed to use the buzz around Cangaroo to raise the profile of gay, lesbian and transgender charities. 
“We are currently in talks with different Pride festivals, so we aims to use the product in the public space to allow people to take stand on something,” he said. “During Pride week our ambition is that if you jump on a pogo stick, you jump for free love.” 
“So we're not going to use it as a campaign for a commercial company,” he concluded. “But if you look at charity organizations, they sometimes struggle to get their message out.”
So it it for real? It depends what 'real' means. 

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US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success

The US criminologist behind the anti-gang strategy designed to reduce the number of shootings and explosions in Malmö has credited the city and its police for the "utterly pragmatic, very professional, very focused" way they have put his ideas into practice.

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success
Johan Nilsson/TT

In an online seminar with Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said implementing his Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy had gone extremely smoothly in the city.

“What really stands out about the Malmö experience is contrary to most of the places we work,” he said. “They made their own assessment of their situation on the ground, they looked at the intervention logic, they decided it made sense, and then, in a very rapid, focused and business-like fashion, they figured out how to do the work.”

He said that this contrasted with police and other authorities in most cities who attempt to implement the strategy, who tend to end up “dragging their feet”, “having huge amounts of political infighting”, and coming up with reasons why their city is too different from other cities where the strategy has been a success.

Malmö’s Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) pilot scheme was extended to a three-year programme this January, after its launch in 2018 coincided with a reduction in the number of shootings and explosions in the city.

“We think it’s a good medicine for Malmö for breaking the negative trend that we had,” Malmö police chief Stefan Sintéus said, pointing to the fall from 65 shootings in 2017 to 20 in 2020, and in explosions from 62 in 2017 to 17 in 2020.

A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of shootings from 2017 to 2020. Graph: Malmö Police
A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of explosions in the city between 2017 and 2020. Graph: Malmö Police


In their second evaluation of the programme, published last month, Anna-Karin Ivert, Caroline Mellgren, and Karin Svanberg, three criminologists from Malmö University, reported that violent crime had declined significantly since the program came into force, and said that it was possible that the Sluta Skjut program was partly responsible, although it was difficult to judge exactly to what extent. 

The number of shootings had already started to decline before the scheme was launched, and in November 2019, Sweden’s national police launched Operation Rimfrost, a six-month crackdown on gang crime, which saw Malmö police reinforced by officers from across Sweden.

But Kennedy said he had “very little sympathy” for criminologists critical of the police’s decision to launch such a massive operation at the same time as Sluta Skjut, making it near impossible to evaluate the programme.

“Evaluation is there to improve public policy, public policy is not there to provide the basis for for sophisticated evaluation methodology,” he argued.

“When people with jobs to do, feel that they need to do things in the name of public safety, they should follow their professional, legal and moral judgement. Not doing something to save lives, because it’s going to create evaluation issues, I think, is simply privileging social science in a way that it doesn’t deserve.”

US criminologist David Kennedy partaking in the meeting. Photo: Richard Orange

Sluta Skjut has been based around so-called ‘call-ins’, in which known gang members on probation are asked to attend meetings, where law enforcement officials warn them that if shootings and explosions continue, they and the groups around them will be subject to intense focus from police.

At the same time, social workers and other actors in civil society offer help in leaving gang life.

Of the 250-300 young men who have been involved in the project, about 40 have been sent to prison, while 49 have joined Malmö’s ‘defector’ programme, which helps individuals leave gangs.

Kennedy warned not to focus too much on the number of those involved in the scheme who start to work with social services on leaving gang life.

“What we find in in practice is that most of the impact of this approach doesn’t come either because people go to prison or because they take services and leave gang life,” he said.

“Most of the impact comes from people simply putting their guns down and no longer being violent.”

“We think of the options as continuing to be extremely dangerous, or completely turning one’s life around. That’s not realistic in practice. Most of us don’t change that dramatically ever in our lives.”

He stressed the importance of informal social control in his method, reaching those who gang members love and respect, and encouraging them to put pressure on gang members to abstain from gun violence.

“We all care more about our mothers than we care about the police, and it turns out that if you can find the guy that this very high risk, very dangerous person respects – literally, you know, little old ladies will go up to him and get his attention and tell him to behave himself. And he will.”