Bodegas in New York City don't need to be 'disrupted'


Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan released an app called Bodega on Wednesday, which seeks to disrupt convenience shopping, reports Fast Company.

Also, the stock photos provided to Fast Company are the kind you might take at a high school reunion where everyone is really trying to look like they're still glad they made a decision to attend. Sign up for the free Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter. Many took to Twitter to air their grievances about the Bodega box concept and show their support for their local bodega.

It's basically a fancy vending machine or hotel minibar, packed with items such as La Croix, coconut water, protein bars and instant noodles, and unlocked with a smartphone app. It's basically a vending machine.

"Each community tends to have relatively homogenous tastes, given that they live or work in the same place", McDonald explains.

A new startup called Bodega launched Wednesday and has already apologized in the face of mounting outrage. Which, sure, on an etymological level, a small box that sells sundries might not technically be a misappropriation of the term bodega. Well, the Bodega startup wants to cash in on that sense of familiarity, though McDonald and Rajan won't phrase it that way.

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When asked by Fast Company, McDonald said he wasn't anxious about the name. We did some homework - speaking to New Yorkers, branding people, and even running some survey work asking about the name and any potential offense it might cause.

The bodega - known outside of New York City as the corner store - is one of the best things about living in a city, an urban oasis for replenishing your fill of human interaction, odd snacks, beer, and cats.

"Trying to destroy bodegas with a startup called "Bodega" that has a bodega cat logo is... just very bad", tech entrepreneur Anil Dash tweeted. Garcia is now chairman of all state chambers nationally, including Puerto Rico, for which he represents thousands of bodega owners and other Latino businesses.

But the future of that bodega experience may be threatened by a new innovation - which borrowed the same name - started by two former Google employees. In many major cities, it's come to mean the mostly independently-run corner stores that populate the city and serve the community. "To compete with bodegas and also use the 'bodega" name is unbelievably disrespectful".

Garcia points out that bodega owners are already struggling thanks to grocery-delivery services and rising rents, and this startup would just add another nail to the coffin. The company's founders, according to Fast Company, unveiled 50 new West Coast locations in addition to plans to open more than 1,000 nationwide by the end of 2018.