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Bodega raises $2.5M to build a smart store kiosk in your apartment building

Bodega raises $2.5M to build a smart store kiosk in your apartment building
From TechCrunch - September 13, 2017

If youre in a big city like New York City, youre probably used to walking around the block away from where you live to the corner shop and picking up a jug of milk or some dishwashing detergent.

But Paul McDonald (who says he has not lived in New York), who was at Google for more than 13 years, wants to collapse that distance between walking to that store to pick something up and ordering it online even further. A new startup called Bodega hopes to install kinds of convenience store-like kiosks right into apartment buildings, gyms, or other infrastructure thatll sell the goodslike dish detergentthat residents need.The company has raised $2.5 million in a financing round led by First Round Capital and Homebrew Ventures and has 30 bodegas live scattered around the Bay Area.

Retailers are contouring their business around this fact that users want convenience, McDonald said. Theres really only been two options: you can go to the store, oryou can order something online. What were trying to do is introduce a third option, a new way of buying things. Shrink the store, bring the best parts in a smaller form factor and bring it to where you are.

The whole process starts with a small kiosk that sits inside a building filled with goods. Bodega uses an array of cameras to see whos walking up to the kiosk. They open up that kiosk with a three-digit password and then grab something out of it. The cameras then isolate their hand and what they are picking up, and when they walk away with that product Bodega logs it as sold to that customer. The customers credit card is charged, and then life moves on.

Bodega then tracks which goods were sold, whos buying what, and then predicts over time which products they should place in the bodega. It gets filled up periodically, and then people come and buy their once-a-week purchases again when needed. McDonald said Bodega uses off-the-shelf hardware for its cameras, meaning it should be easier to deploy rather than create something custom. And, thanks to advances in image recognition, companies like Bodega can theoretically finally get off the ground.

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