After a news article with the headline ‘Two ex-Googlers want to make bodegas and mom-and-pop corner stores obsolete’ was published, the startup received backlash all across social media.

Heres how startups can avoid Bodegas PR disaster
Atom Startups Sunday, September 17, 2017 - 13:01

It was possible for businesses a few decades ago to make mistakes and then recover and be successful once again. The new age mantra is get it right the first time and every time thereafter; learn from others’ mistakes, if at all. And in the case of startups, where the promoters are playing with others’ money, it should apply even more strictly.

But a startup in the US is not only learning it the hard way how their decisions and communications are going awry, but they are also leaving a message for other startups, wherever they are, to be extremely careful at every step of the way.

The discussion here is about Bodega, a startup floated by a couple of former Google employees and the business idea they had was unmanned vending machines that could cough out everyday stuff. If they had gone about quietly promoting their venture with positive messages, it might have passed off without much difficulty. Their trouble started for Bodega when an article appeared with a headline that read “Two Ex-Googlers Want to Make Bodegas and Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete”.

This virtually set the cat among the pigeons and the social media erupted in anger against the way the company was trying to position itself. The Americans still love their mom & pop neighborhood stores. While the human touch was going away in many areas of activity, these physical outfits still offered a place to exchange a few words with others in flesh and blood while buying off items of daily use.

To declare, is an ‘on your face’ way, that their startup will finish off these stores could have affected a few raw nerves in the community. Some even question the wisdom in choosing the name for the company. Bodegas were the small stores selling wine and were operated by the Spanish community when they started arriving in the US. Just when the whole country is passing through some sensitive times relating to immigrants and so on the last thing a couple of young minds should have done is to choose such a name for their new venture.

There is also a general negative perception about the way these startups receive massive funding (Bodega is supposed to have raised $2.5million in funding already) even before their business ideas catch up and the fact that many of them keep falling by the wayside within a few months/years of launch also does not escape the public at large.

Taking all these factors into account what has transpired with Bodega is a classic example of a PR disaster. It could prove to be an ideal case study for other startups on ‘how not to go about their business’.  

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