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Bodega’s CEO defends the name of his business after a day of backlash

Paul McDonald, the CEO of Bodega, didn’t see the outrage coming, he explains in a blog post that just went live. “Today we announced Bodega, and while we were hoping for a big response, the reaction that we got this morning certainly wasn’t what we expected,” he says.

McDonald goes on to address some of the issues laid out in our story about the company, which aims to install app-connected pantry boxes in apartments, offices, dorms, and gyms. First, he says he never intended to compete with actual bodegas or mom-and-pop stores. (Although he did tell me that his startup’s larger goal is to eliminate the need for any brick-and-mortar store at all, because these little pantries would be ubiquitous.)

And second, he concedes that he and his cofounder didn’t fully understand the implications of calling the company Bodega, a name that sparked an immediate social media backlash that continued throughout much of the day. From the post:

Is it possible we didn’t fully understand what the reaction to the name would be?

Yes, clearly. The name Bodega sparked a wave of criticism on social media far beyond what we ever imagined. When we first came up with the idea to call the company Bodega we recognized that there was a risk of it being interpreted as misappropriation. We did some homework — speaking to New Yorkers, branding people, and even running some survey work asking about the name and any potential offense it might cause. But it’s clear that we may not have been asking the right questions of the right people.

You can read the full post here.ES