As a student in the Questrom School of Business, I completely understand the importance of supporting new innovations and early stage startups. Seeing these success stories and the hard work that goes behind the scenes is one of the reasons why I enjoy watching shows like “Shark Tank.” However, in the case of the new startup called Bodega, I wish they had ventured down to “Shark Tank” to earn an investment so that their project could be nipped in the bud by Mark Cuban himself. Bodega, started by two ex-Google employees, aims to nullify the need for mom-and-pop stores by replacing them with what is essentially a vamped-up vending machine. It’s highly ironic that they want to profit off of the name of these little stores, often found on every corner in New York City. Here’s a few reasons why the product should’ve been shelved before it hit the public eye:
Bodega’s “innovation” can never replace all the items that bodegas sell
These unsupervised pantries can be accessed and unlocked via your phone, and your credit card is automatically charged after your purchase. Given that this box is only able to hold goods that last a long time before expiring, a customer will end up having to go to a store anyway to pick up most of their groceries. Bodegas have already one-upped this startup — some of their charm lies in that fact that you purchase a variety of goods ranging from lottery tickets to fresh fruits and vegetables to a knock-off fidget spinner. Consumers want to be able to purchase all of their goods in one convenient location. What’s better than going to the local bodega right down your street?
Bodegas are part of the culture of a city
A local bodega represents the lifestyle and traditions of a community. Bodegas sell products that are catered to a particular ethnicity. They’re often run by immigrant families and their consumers are likely to have been visiting the bodega for several years. When people shop in a bodega, they don’t just want to walk in and walk out. People build relationships with the owners, which in turn creates an environment of comfort and belongingness. The fact that these two ex-Google employees sought out to annihilate these little mom-and-pop stores is distasteful to say the least, and certainly not a brilliant way to sell your product.
The product is an unmanned pantry
Let me repeat myself. Bodega’s pantries are unsupervised! A pantry that sells items like iPhones is basically giving out open invitations to be looted.
They’re called “Bodega”
They named themselves Bodega and found absolutely nothing wrong with it! In fact, when questioned, one of the co-founders, Paul McDonald, said in a Fast Company article that 97 percent of the Latin-American patrons they surveyed were fine with the name. It’s clear now through the harsh backlash though that people are not okay with it, going as far to call it “sacrilegious” to use that name.