Could this Silicon Valley-funded Bodega replace the corner store?


"The vision here is much bigger than the box itself", McDonald explained in a story published by Fast Company.

One of the founders, neither of whom could immediately be reached for comment by CNBC Make It, tells TechCrunch this about the company: "There's really only been two options: you can go to the store, or you can order something online", says McDonald. Sign up for the free Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter.

Several people noted that the startup takes as its logo the cat, a feature of many authentic bodegas that will be absent from the ex-Googlers' high-tech version. Their business: to put sleeker vending machines in apartment and office buildings as well as dorms.

Nah, it doesn't work because you've made a glorified vending machine and are naming it Bodega. (Search "bodega" on Twitter if you don't believe me.) McDonald and Rajan claim to have done some outreach, but it rings a bit hollow: "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 said.

A new startup called Bodega launched Wednesday and has already apologized in the face of mounting outrage. The idea behind the venture hasn't been sitting well with Twitter users.

When asked if he thought the name would come off as insensitive, McDonald said, "I'm not particularly concerned about it".

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It's exactly because it's so depressingly incremental that I think Bodega isn't getting worth worked up over. Customers use the Bodega app to unlock a kiosk on the street to purchase whatever non-perishable products are found inside that they need.

Other users praised the sense of community they get from visiting bodegas.

Bodegas, which take their name from the Spanish word for grocery store, cellar or warehouse, are corner stores commonly ran by New York City's Latino and immigrant communities.

McDonald and Rajan have raised 2.5 million dollars to invest in their company but not only are people underwhelmed by the lack of originality behind Bodega, if successful, the startup would become yet another mainstream enterprise which would threaten the livelihood of working-class local business owners. Bodegas are already threatened by rising rents and New York's ultra-competitive real estate market, and neighborhoods suffer when these essential services are lost-a fact that seems to be lost on the folks behind Bodega-the-app-version.

But in many places-and certainly in New York City-a bodega functions as more than simply a place to buy necessities. "To compete with bodegas and also use the 'bodega" name is unbelievably disrespectful".