Two former Google employees see your beloved local bodega and raise you a glorified vending machine. In typical Silicon Valley fashion, tech bros are capitalizing on the charm of your community mom-and-pop convenience store, aiming to put them out of business while co-opting their name.
Bodega is a startup that wants to take on the convenience store. It envisions a future where instead of going to your local convenience store for affordable non-perishables, cigarettes, and toiletries, you will want to unlock a five-foot-wide pantry box with an app and hope it is equipped with the non-perishable item you need and can afford. Your credit card is automatically charged thanks to “cameras powered with computer vision,” according to Fast Company. The verdict is out if this unmanned box of probably overpriced pita chips will take cash.
“The vision here is much bigger than the box itself,” Bodega co-founder Paul McDonald told Fast Company. “Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you.”
And when it comes to the company’s potentially offensive name, McDonald says he’s “not particularly concerned about it.”
“We did surveys in the Latin American community to understand if they felt the name was a misappropriation of that term or had negative connotations, and 97% said ‘no.’” McDonald told the magazine. “It’s a simple name and I think it works.”
Solving a problem that doesn’t exist to threaten the livelihoods of local bodegas is nefarious enough, but the venture also stands to get rid of arguably one of the most important bodega features—the bodega cat—which they’ve also co-opted for the startup’s logo. How dare you.
According to a (mysteriously deleted) story on Techcrunch, the startup has already raised $2.5 million in financing. We have reached out to Techcrunch and Quartz, which also removed a story about Bogeda today without explanation, and will update this post when we hear back.
Update 12:23pm: After becoming temporarily unavailable, the TechCrunch and Quartz stories are now back online. A reporter for Quartz said the story’s temporary disappearance on the site was the result of accidentally breaking a press embargo.