Founded by two ex-Googlers, Bodega works sort of like that neighborhood grocery store that you run to when you are out of toothpaste, pasta sauce or tampons.
Except this new-age Bodega has no workers. It’s a five-foot-wide pantry that is stocked with non-perishable staples. You access the pantry using the company’s app and cameras record the item you remove. It also electronically charges you for that purchase.
In a recent article in Fast Company, the founders, Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan, said they have installed Bodega pantries in 30 locations in the Bay Area, including apartment lobbies, dorms, offices and gyms. They hope to place more than 1,000 bodegas in various locations by the end of the year.
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But Bodega is also generating its share of critics who say it is a direct assault on the immigrant-run corner grocery stores found in big cities like New York.
Armed with plenty of investment capital, the founders don’t seem bothered by their haters.
McDonald told Fast Company: “I’m not particularly concerned about it.” He added that the company surveyed members of the “Latin American” community about whether they thought the name was a misappropriation or had a negative connotation and they overwhelmingly – 97 percent – said no.
That’s not exactly how some on Twitter saw the new bodega rival.