Business & Tech

This startup by two ex-Google workers has people steaming — especially in Boston

The actual bodega part of Bodega in Boston’s Back Bay.
Josh Campbell/Globe Photo/File 2010
The actual bodega part of Bodega in Boston’s Back Bay.

Can there only be one Bodega?

A startup founded by two former Google employees is not only getting hate nationwide over its premise — it’s also getting criticism from a popular Boston shop that shares its name.

The explosion in disapproval started after a feature was published in Fast Company about a venture called Bodega, which was launched Wednesday. The new business premise essentially amounts to a fancy, app-controlled vending machine for convenience store items. The Bodega app allows users to unlock the pantry box, while cameras inside the box recognize what you take and charge your credit card accordingly.

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One store that didn’t take kindly to the new startup? Bodega — a beloved Back Bay sneaker speakeasy, if you will, which features a hidden entrance within a convenience store on Clearwater Street.

In a tweet sent Wednesday afternoon, those who run the Boston-based Bodega had a few cheeky suggestions on how the ex-Google workers could rename their business.

The Back Bay shop also went on a bit of a tweetstorm against the new venture — especially since it appears some have gotten the two mixed up.

The Boston store isn’t the only voice criticizing the app for its name. In fact, so many people took to Twitter to express their outrage, “Bodega” became a national trending topic by Wednesday night.

The new venture’s founders posted a blog entry Wednesday addressing the backlash, noting that the company’s name “sparked a wave of criticism on social media far beyond what we ever imagined.” The founders said they were not trying to put corner stores out of business and originally chose the name “Bodega” because it is culturally synonymous with “convenience and ubiquity.” (The company said it had even conducted a survey early on to see if the name caused any offense, “but it’s clear that we may not have been asking the right questions of the right people.”)

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