A lot of my friends have chickens. I've thought about having chickens. I even coop-sat for some chickens once while my buddies were out of town. I like chickens and I love the thought of them having their own version of doggie day care, a place to go while their people are off at work or gone on vacation.
Such a place exists in the fantasy world of the Internet. It's called Qoopy. Qoopy's tagline is, "When you travel, we give your chickens the royal treatment." It purports to offer services in hipster-heaven locations Brooklyn; Bernal Heights in San Francisco; and Portland, Ore.
There's a picture of a bearded man named Richard Wyatt sharing this fantastic quote: "Knowing my ladies were feeling comfortable and cozy gave me real peace of mind. That way I could really throw myself into Burning Man." Your joke-o-meter should be hitting "11" right about now.
There's a "waitlist only" button that takes you to a lengthy application form requesting details such as your chicken's favorite color, quirks and a brief biography. After submitting the form, you can see what other people wrote. Chickens on the waitlist have names like Tinkles, derpyfeather and Sir Kensington McAdams II.
Andi Plantenberg, a creative director and product designer in San Francisco, is the person behind the Qoopy site, and her marketing and branding skills are on full display. The Qoopy site looks exactly how a fresh, snappy startup's site should look.
Plantenberg released a statement about Qoopy that leaves the mystery at least somewhat intact:
One of the most common questions we get is "Is Qoopy real -- or is this some kind of affectionate satire of the world we live in?"
I'm not a shaman. I'm not qualified to answer questions like that.
I do see that today's urbanites long for a return to the simplicity and immediacy of raising their own food. This new generation has its own answers to questions like "What should I do with my chicken once her egg-laying days are done?" And even, "When I go to work, will my chicken miss me?"
On the other hand, the tech industry is racing to provide services that cater to urbanites' every whim. I can have my dirty skivvies picked up with a tap of my smartphone.
Qoopy's biggest innovation has not been our hand-crafted chicken curriculum, but our willingness to ask the question "Is the innovation economy solving the right problems?"
The actual origins of Qoopy came from a discussion Plantenberg had last Thursday night with Alan Peters, a friend and former colleague at the now-closed digital agency Singlebound Creative. The concept of a chicken day care for urban hipsters came up, caused a laugh and inspired Plantenberg to make a site and logo and launch it the next day.
Over the weekend, Qoopy received thousands of hits and a few serious inquiries from chicken owners in Brooklyn. "The fact that it went viral is really interesting," Plantenberg tells CNET's Crave blog.
Qoopy operates on several levels, besides that of wishful thinking. It's funny. The chicken questionnaire is worth a read. It also asks us to think about the current startup climate where you can download an app for on-demand dry-cleaning services and another for sending a personal grocery shopping assistant to pick up your bananas and milk.
Plantenberg doesn't have any chickens of her own, but she does have some hopes for Qoopy sparking discussions about what kind of tech startups and services are needed in places like San Francisco. "I hope they get a laugh and that they question what we're building and what problems we're solving," she says.
So there isn't a magic chicken daycare where hipsters can drop off their brood while they go to Burning Man. I'm both relieved and disappointed.