Last fall, the citizens of the internet collectively rolled their eyes upon learning that a few Silicon Valley bros had started a fancy vending machine company called Bodega. Obviously, there’s no way that a smartphone-activated file cabinet full of chips could replace a corner store operated by real humans, and some people found the concept to be utterly offensive. The backlash was so swift that the company’s founders, ex-Googlers Ashwath Rajan and Paul McDonald, both announced their business and issued an apology on the very same day.
Although Bodega seemed doomed from the start, somehow the Oakland, California-based business has persevered. And now, almost one year after their disastrous introduction to the world, the founders have finally decided to change the name to something less offensive (though rather forgettable): Stockwell. McDonald explains the name change in a recent blog post:
Coming up with a name for what we do — bringing every day essentials to consumers quickly and easily — was a challenge. The inspiration for our former name, Bodega, was, we thought, an homage to the local corner store, the people who ran it, and their place in our collective conscious. We were wrong. We reviewed the feedback thoughtfully and ultimately decided that our new name, Stockwell, was a better expression of our mission and our unique offering to consumers — a store open 24 hours, filled with the things they need, located right where they live, work and play.
It’s nice that the guys “reviewed the feedback thoughtfully,” but it’s a bit strange that it took them 10 months to decide to make the change, since it was abundantly clear that everyone hated this name (and concept!) from day one.
Despite the rebranding, the company still seems like a parody of a tech start-up, right down to the jargon-filled mission statement on its website (it’s combining the “convenience of online ordering with the instant gratification of real world retail”) and the French bulldog that’s included in the staff photos:
That’s right — a dog works at the company that’s trying to disrupt the vending machine game.
• Stockwell [Official]
• Bodega is now Stockwell [Medium]
• Bodega Changes Maligned Moniker, Rebrands as Stockwell [The Spoon]
• This Startup Wants to Make Bodegas Obsolete and Twitter Is Not Here For It [E]
• Bodega Isn’t Just Bad Branding, It’s Bad Business [E]