Everyone Hates Silicon Valley’s Newest Startup: ‘Bodega’

The company had 'the absolute worst startup launch PR story' one insider tells Vanity Fair.

September 14, 2017 10:39 am

On Wednesday, two former Google employees announced their idea for Bodega, a series of “five-foot-wide pantry boxes filled with non-perishable items you might pick up at a convenience store.” It connects to an app that charges your credit card if you take something out of the box. The duo said that they received about $2.5 million in funding from Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and Google, and want to install the kiosks in gyms, dorms, and apartment buildings, writes Vanity Fair

But the main issues? The Internet hates the idea. A lot of the hate stems from the appropriation of bodega culture, including the logo, which is a nod to bodega cats. But Twitter users also mocked the baffling logistics and business model as well, writes Vanity Fair. 

Eater editor-at-large Helen Rosner was one of the many to take to social media to discuss this new startup. She explained in a series of tweets that Bodega is trying to “reinvent a distributed retail system,” but that rarely works for its inefficiency.

Her point is that filling pantry boxes with hundreds of kinds of products will be it hard to keep up with unpredictable demand. How will the company restock? But she also raised a lot of other questions, like who is doing that restocking — who are the employees? Where are the start-up’s warehouses?

Co-founder Paul McDonald told Fast Company that the goal is to unseat actual bodegas, which are the corner stores on every block in cities like New York City and Los Angeles. He 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,” according to Vanity Fair.

But the Internet was also not having that, and were incredibly opposed to the idea of a device pushing out bodegas.

McDonald responded to the mounting criticism in a Medium post, saying that they did not understand what the reaction to the name would be. “The name Bodega sparked a wave of criticism on social media far beyond what we ever imagined. … It’s clear that we may not have been asking the right questions of the right people,” he wrote, according to Vanity Fair. 

Will the startup be able to survive this criticism and terrible launch? We’ll have to wait and see.

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