Ex-Google Employees Threaten Mom-And-Pop Bodegas With New Startup
Bodega is the brainchild of two ex-Google Employees.
A new startup wants to “make bodegas and mom-and-pop corner stores obsolete.” Ironically named “Bodega” after the stores they hope to eradicate, the startup founded by two ex-Google employees plans to install unmanned pantry boxes in apartment buildings, offices, dorms, and gyms that provide basic household items typically provided by the neighborhood Bodega. And get this—their logo is even a Bodega cat.
The pantry can only be unlocked by an app, and upon choosing an item, cameras powered with computer vision will register what you’ve selected and automatically charge your credit card.
“Each community tends to have relatively homogeneous tastes, given that they live or work in the same place,” Paul McDonald, co-creator of Bodega said in an interview with Fast Company. “By studying their buying behavior, we’re hoping to eventually figure out how the needs of people in one apartment building differ from those in another. We could customize the items in one dorm versus the next.”
As for the name of the start up, when asked by Fast Company if he believed the name came off as culturally insensitive, McDonald said he is “not particularly concerned about it.” However, plenty of people have taken to social media to voice their displeasure with the startup and its aim at the demise of neighborhood staple bodegas primarily run by immigrant communities.
Wealthy tech bros are so uncomfortable interacting w working class POC that they think a glorified vending machine is better than a bodega. https://t.co/wPWhfkwBrx
— vero bayetti flores (@veroconplatanos) September 13, 2017
You not getting one magnum, a chopped cheese sangwich and a Dutch from a bodega box foh b
— Desus Nice (@desusnice) September 13, 2017
My bodega guy lives in my building; I'd like to see your dumb machine bring you an egg sammie at 11pm & talk about its world travels https://t.co/siSA2hFLKl
— Danielle Henderson (@knottyyarn) September 13, 2017
Ultimately, McDonald and fellow co-creator Ashwath Rajan seem to be tone deaf to how their product simplifies the importance of bodegas to a community. Surely, these boxes will not be able to make us the $3.50 bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich we get on our way to work, or offer up a plate of halal after a late night.
“Bodega” is essentially a poorly named modern vending machine taking aim at another staple in the minority community.