People come up with ideas every day. Matter of fact, anyone can come up with an idea. Being creative and innovative is not a skill that everyone can master. If you have the money to fund your idea, anything is possible. Clearly, that’s the case with “Bodega“. Bodega is a startup created by two ex-Google employees (Ashwath Rajan and Paul McDonald) who think they’re on the cusp of changing the Bodega game. They’ve decided to go forward with their heinous idea to create pantry boxes that would be placed all around neighborhoods and allegedly (or eventually) replace the corner Bodega store and Mom & Pop neighborhood stores.
First of all, Bodegas have been a staple in New York City neighborhoods for years. Their cultural connection to families of Puerto Rican descent is major. Other cultures have taken on the Bodega business idea in their neighborhood and created a life for themselves as well as servicing the neighborhood. The initial purpose of the Bodega was to make sure that certain products were accessible to members of the community. A simple run to the Bodega, or corner store, made life easier for everybody. They are connected to the community in more ways than one and everyone knows the Bodega guys. If you don’t know your neighborhood Bodega guy, you’re in trouble.
The concept behind this pantry box is absolutely ridiculous. Rajan and McDonald came up with the idea to place these “pantry boxes” in places like apartment buildings, dorm rooms, gyms, and offices so that people could get what they need, whenever they needed it. There would be some high-tech camera set-up that would scan what you purchased and automatically charge your credit card. Their idea includes some 100,000 boxes being placed around the neighborhood so that there’s one nearby at all times. Think about where Bodegas are located and think about the design of this idea…How do you think that’s really gonna play out?
This system clearly isn’t designed for everyone. The sad part is, the start-up has already raised $2.5 million to produce their boxes. There are over 30 boxes in use in the Bay Area already and they are looking to expand. Even though there are a million and one, here are 5 reasons why that’s not going to work in NEW York City:
- Even though cash may soon be obsolete, many people are not equipped with credit cards and bank cards. Paying cash for items happens a lot at bodegas. Aside from cash transactions, if you’re cool with the counter dude, you can even pay him with I.O.U. credit. This can’t happen with these boxes, hindering the ability for some people to get what they need.
- Everybody that works at the Bodega is a part of the community, right down to the resident cat. The Bodega used to be a safe haven for latch key kids afterschool. People got their first work experience at the Bodega. Kids learn about “change” at the Bodega. While the new generation of techies may not be fond of human interaction, some of us still appreciate it. Let us live.
- Bacon Egg and Cheese and Chopped Cheese sandwiches are a necessity. This product box doesn’t have those capabilities. The Bodega grill is a must-have and if these boxes can’t make that happen, they can’t happen.
- Let’s think about where the Bodegas are located and where these boxes would be…How long do you think these product boxes will last in certain neighborhoods? Broken glass and missing boxes are just a few potential problems.
- The products in the boxes don’t seem like items most people who utilize the Bodegas even need. Vitamin Water. LaCroix Seltzer. Meyer’s Cleaner. Where’s the Fabuloso? Chips? Candy behind the bulletproof partition?
It’s safe to assume that the only people who think this is a good idea are people who don’t frequent their neighborhood Bodegas on the regular…them and the scammers. The scammers are the only people happy about these product boxes coming to the hood. You can read the full story about Bodega and their bright idea on FastCompany.com.
Photo Cred: Fast Company