Startup replaces iconic bodegas with 'vending machine' style boxes

The actual bodega part of Bodega in Boston’s Back Bay

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

Nah, it doesn't work because you've made a glorified vending machine and are naming it Bodega.

In a Forbes article, McDonald disagreed with that notion: he called his invention "the iPhone of the retail world", and said a vending machine was like "the payphone of the retail world". All things which the Bodega boxes would not have to handle, he said. You know, like the corner stores you'll find in many neighborhoods, especially Latinx ones.

"My bodega owners are yemeni immigrants and the bodega not only affords them a life in NY but also allows them to send money back home", Roy tweeted. Well, the Bodega startup wants to cash in on that sense of familiarity, though McDonald and Rajan won't phrase it that way. 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. Of course he does-hundreds of thousands of people already recognize it as a place to buy cold beverages and scratch-and-wins from a guy who probably babysat for you at some point.

Bodega, in addition to acting conceptually as a corner store and using the name traditionally associated with the mom-and-pop shops, has also chosen a cat as its logo. Consumers would be able to order items such as ibuprofen, granola bars, snacks and other products through an app and pick them up from a nearby kiosk that will only be a few feet away from users' location.

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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.

There are real threats to traditional bodega owners, though: Rising rents, which have priced some out of business. Garcia plans to ask his fellow Chamber members to push back against the "Bro-dega"-as one Fast Company employee put it-expansion". Only, it also has AI: "The idea is to preempt what people might need, then use machine learning to constantly reassess the 100 most-needed items in that community".

That's not exactly how some on Twitter saw the new bodega rival.

He's also concerned about the financial impact the new company might have on brick-and-mortar bodegas, he told Fast Company. McDonald says they already have 50 locations set up on the West Coast, with plans to go national soon.

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