New ‘Bodega’ Start Up Aims to Make Convenience Stores Obselete

bodega convenience store
Photo by ‘Bodega’


Two former Google employees have begun a start up company named ‘Bodega’. Paul McDonald, a former employee of Google for 13 years cofounded the company with fellow former Google employee Ashwath Rajan. The two cofounders are aiminging to make convenience stores a thing of the past. The new concept is a five foot wide pantry box with non-perishable items you’d pick up at the c-store. A phone app allows you to unlock the pantry box and cameras that are powered with computer vision registers what you grabbed, immediately charging your credit card.

After your purchase, Bodega tracks which products were sold, the person buying the products and predicts over a period of time which products should be stocked in the bodega. The box is filled periodically as people use it for their once a week purchases when needed. As the company uses of the shelf hardware for the cameras monitoring purchases, it is easier for them to deploy instead of creating something custom.

Whenever a new location is secured to place one of the kiosks, Bodega starts with base products. As time moves forward, the company replaces items in accordance to what customers are purchasing. After a customer’s second or third trip, the company queries its users to see what’s missing from their trip. Bodega is trying to bring the term convenience to an entire new level.

The boxes can essentially be placed anywhere from your apartment, gyms, buildings or any other infrastructure that’ll sell goods that residents need. McDonald has already raised $2.5 million with help from First Round Capital and Homebrew Ventures. The company was also able to obtain angel investors from companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.

There have been 30 bodegas live scattered in the Bay Area of California that have been used for testing the past 10 months. It wasn’t until today that McDonald revealed 50 new locations on the west coast with hopes of having more than 1,000 by the end of 2018.

McDonald is feeling positive about ‘Bodega’ and sees a future for the company already. The vision here is much bigger than the box itself,” McDonald says. “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 you would imagine, other actual bodegas are not very enthusiastic about this new “c-store” concept. Many have taken to Twitter to announce their displeasure of the idea. The word was even trending due to the number of people going to the Twitter on the subject. One man who was interviewed by CNBC had a few words to say about the company name.

“The ‘bodega’ name is a very important name in the Puerto Rican and Hispanic community,” Garcia tells CNBC Make It. “It has always been a house for immigrants to buy in. With all of the anti-immigrant issues, I think using the name ‘Bodega’ is an issue.”

Whether or not the company will continue to trend and become successful is something we do not yet now. Many are furious with the idea while there have been many others to embrace the idea. One thing is for sure. The convenience stores in the country will have more competition to face in an already highly competitive market.

Read more on the subject in the sources below.


Source(s): Fast Company, TechCrunch, CNBC