A word of warning to tech startups: New Yorkers love their bodegas — compete at your own risk.
Tech startup Bodega aims to replace beloved brick-and-mortar bodegas with more convenient, automatic-billing “pantry boxes,” according to a Wednesday article by business magazine Fast Company. The backlash on social media was immediate and intensely negative.
“I would eat off the floor of the sketchiest bodega in NYC before I bought something from some tech d------s cabinet,” wrote @StuckInTheIV on Twitter.
Dozens of other Twitter users were quick to express their abhorration of Bodega’s mission. User @Smooth_Orator touched on a likely root of the widespread disapproval: The watercooler aspect.
“The idea you can make a ‘Bodega box’ shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of a Bodega in the first place,” @Smooth_Orator wrote.
The company’s website, bodega.ai, describes the boxes as “small, automated stores in offices, apartments, college campuses, and more. ... Take what you need and walk away. Bodegas learn what sells at each location and restock accordingly.”
A conceptual video on the company’s website shows a customer unlocking the box via smartphone, then simply taking a snack and leaving. A host of cameras in each box allegedly track customers’ actions and keep stock of what is removed in order to calculate the automatically generated bill.
Bodega already has installed more than 30 boxes in the San Francisco Bay area, including a dozen in San Francisco proper, a couple in Oakland and few near the University of California, Berkeley, campus. The company’s founders, according to Fast Company, unveiled 50 new West Coast locations in addition to plans to open more than 1,000 nationwide by the end of 2018.
There are no known plans to invade New York City any time soon.
Bodega has not responded to requests for comment.