Former Googlers, Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan have launched a new concept called Bodega that would set up full pantry boxes filled with non-perishable items you might find at your local mom-and-pops store. With a click of an app, users can unlock the box and pick up items automatically charged to their credit card while cameras register the entire transaction. Designed to be set up like vending machines in apartments, dorms, business locations, and gyms, the concept could ultimately eliminate local Bodegas, at least that's the goal. In an interview with FastCompany McDonald said, “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.” As items are purchased from the Bodega, a notification is generated which notifies people to come out and restock the boxes.
With funding from notable investors including Josh Kopelman at First Round Capital, Kirsten Green at Forerunner Ventures, and Hunter Walk at Homebrew, McDonald and Rajan have been testing the concept at 30 Bay Area locations for the past 10 months. The added support of investments from senior executives at Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, and Google, have allowed McDonald and Rajan to collect valuable data on which products make the most sense at any given location. “Each community tends to have relatively homogeneous tastes, given that they live or work in the same place,” McDonald said. “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.”
The duo plans to take Bodega national by the end of 2018.
I mean, who wouldn't welcome the opportunity to skip that late-night, emergency store run? Thanks to sweeping technological advances, we are now able to complete transactions, communicate, and even bring light to injustices more quickly than our grandparents, and even our parents could ever have imagined. From Lyft, to Amazon, to Social Media Apps, the benefits of technology are undeniable, but with every convenience comes some downside. While the concept for Bodega makes sense, if successful it could have a huge adverse impact on many black and minority owned urban businesses and local economies already struggling against the backdrop of gentrification. What's the real cost? How much are we willing to sacrifice for convenience?
Of course Black Twitter especially those on the East Coast had a bone to pick with these techies. If you're from this side of the country especially NYC, the bodega is a staple in the community and will not go out without a fight.
My own mother won't make me a bacon egg and cheese at 4am while drunk. Don't tell me my bodega don't love me. https://t.co/GMN7QdI6DN— Kazeem Famuyide (@RealLifeKaz) September 13, 2017
yall aint got loosies, incense, or a bacon egg & cheese on a roll so this is a flop. https://t.co/9G2YYszRCY— king crissle (@crissles) September 13, 2017
So that Bodega startup designed to get rid of bodegas launched on the West Coast. Rest assure, East Coast has no chill, they wont last in NY— Joan (@JoanSDeJesus) September 13, 2017
Techies: I present the Bodega Box— rosechocglam (@rosechocglam) September 13, 2017
All of New York: pic.twitter.com/cNWv8Yj69r