Vending machine startup hopes to put bodegas out of business

Please elaborate.

funny thing about crashing and burning. There’s always collateral damage.

“Disruption” can be a helpful step one in making industries better, but when your whole business model is only disruption, with no step two, you’re not helping. And also…is this really an area of the market that need disrupting? If it will do more harm than good, I think not.

Personally I hope that all the bodega cats band together and eat these idiots. The internet/social media eating them alive will probably have to suffice (and isn’t that really just as full of cats?)


It is, in many ways, a bullshit device designed to get them startup capital, so that they can call it something, sell the idea to someone, and walk away with a fat pile of cash and maybe go live on an island somewhere for a few years while they think up another completely stupid business concept to sell to another stupid bunch of investors.

For me, I have to ask why it’s so important for said investors to latch on to every idea that involves removing people from community? The commons will become a place full of machines that serve each other, and people will be wandering through like ghosts, with no purpose other than to make sure the machines work. I’m not suggesting that we need to get back to everyone doing backbreaking manual labor, but whatever happened to the idea of community, of society? Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan are dead. Can’t we do something to unravel the systems they began?

Or do we simply keep going down that path, because innovation?

Wired magazine had a great article a while back about how the Amish adopt new technology; how, with each addition of some new technology (like electricity, fed by batteries in their homes), they would get together and discuss how things might change, what the benefits would be and, most importantly, what the cultural deficits might be. We just make shit and buy shit, and each layer of shit makes us less connected as humans.


In the less dense cities, these are just “convenience stores”. I guess if you’re primary function is convenience of things you need, something like this might replace them. Though as I understand it, bodegas provide some community social areas etc.

I think two things people aren’t thinking about is A) current Bodega owners switching to this model to maximize their profits and 2) that maybe this model isn’t going to be a great idea, as people are prone to rob and vandalize machines. You have an unmanned machine full of Crown Royal and cheap Vodka and cigarettes? Yeah, good luck with that.


Precisely. I was just going to say, you’ll be needing an excellent barrier to prevent trucks from driving into it for this venture to work.


Well, there are plenty of examples of people with “high skills” having to take menial jobs.

Unless you think (for example) all the qualified doctors and nurses working as cleaners or stacking shelves in various parts of the world are doing those jobs because they prefer them to being doctors or nurses, then your statement is wrong.

I think what you mean is that if you have to take a menial job, you don’t have “high skills” that the society you live in chooses to accept as “high skills” which is a completely different thing.

But would be more honest.


What’s important for investors is removing human labor from as many processes as possible because human labor is expensive. The rest is incidental collateral damage. And since individual investors have zero economic incentive to care about communities, in their sum collective action, they end up undermining the very source of their income by obliterating the customer base.


There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing the same thing at a lower margin / zero margin. The actual disruptive capability is in peer-to-peer restocking, not in the Brodega concept, which faces all of the same issues as any existing vending machine.

Neighbors can organically decide on a limited list of high turnover items and stow/bank them into the box. This can be as simple as an app that they use to wish they had something - it checks the box’s inventory and also alerts “schlepers” that replenishment of that item would be appreciated, the next time they go to Costco, local market, etc.

All of this would be cashless and would employ some of the same secret sauce inventory recognition AI as Amazon Now, Brodega, or similar.

If neighbors decide they want this, then the real business is in designing the app and AI for monitoring deposits and withdrawals.

1 Like

Excepting war-zone and political refugees, they do. They come to richer countries to work menial tasks because this offers them a better economic opportunity than working as doctors/nurses in their home country.

1 Like

Well, that does seem to have been thought of. The article is fairly clear that these boxes are going to be put up inside fairly safe spaces, posh gyms, college dorms and so on.

They are also only going to contain fairly cheap items so if someone does empty it out, it won’t cost the operator much. Although if they include razor blades I guess all bets are off.

The security is being outsourced. Remember you have to externalise costs where ever possible!


I’m just going to hope that’s an example of Poe’s law rather than your actual opinion.


Most vending machines here arent fancy and are not hurting small businesses since they are generally individually owned or leased, in many cases by small businesses.

Thats a whole lotta hyperbole there Rob…


The original article says: “In most cases, Bodega doesn’t pay for the retail space, but pitches itself as an amenity or a convenience to property managers”. From conversations with US operators of vending machines, I know it isn’t so. Actually vending machines have a very low return on investment in the USA because of these costs. Basically, this project will not work.


I consider it a statement of fact rather than an opinion. I’m not saying the receiving countries could not do more to ensure that skills are put to use, in the face of opposition by domestic interest groups defending their professional monopolies.

But if you are facing miserable conditions in your home country and chose to emigrate to some other place knowing that the price for it is effective loss of your qualifications - well, that’s your expression of preference. And, again, it has nothing to do with deployment of new technology.

I have a good “credit score” and I use my Visa to routinely buy trivial stuff, but frankly have to use a smartphone to buy a pack of pills for headache seems to me overkill. By the way if the bank enables Apple Pay on a contactless POS it will wotk with iPhones.

Seems to me that this startup is trying to sell an item that is already present on the market, with added millenial hubris. If I were a VC I think I’ll make a deal with a factory with deliverable products now.


And lotto tickets. Lotto tickets and cigarettes seem to be the life’s blood of corner stores around here – sometimes I think everything else in the store is just there to increase the number of potential buyers of cancer sticks and lotto tickets who walk in the door.


Indeed that is what it is. And it would be a ignorant investor because the economics of vending machines are known and they are not very good.

I suspect that they simply hate people. Actually, the few rich people I have come across indeed had a visceral, psychopathic hatred for the members of the working class. It was a frightening experience.


So then they lack the convenience of street Bodegas, yes?

The damage to the machine itself would most likely be costly.


Grarrrrr, those Silicon Valley fuckers. However, those of us who have lived in both the mega-cities and the sprawl can tell you a little secret: we don’t have bodegas everywhere. The economics don’t line up when the population density is too low, so there are millions of people who don’t have access to the little corner store with the cat and community, and these people, today, have to get in a damn car and drive to a chain grocer or a gas station to buy some late-night essential item.

Are these dudes being stupid about their marketing… yes and no. If you live near a real bodega, of course it riles you to see this “replacement.” But if you had access to a bodega in the past, and this little wannabe mini-bodega thing becomes available near you, you’ll appreciate the thought, and you’ll probably use it.

Is the business model going to fly? Well, they did troll up some free press, but I still think the logistics side is lacking.


Yes, but you can only pay for it with Flooz or Beenz