I love start ups. When I learned about Betsy Polivy's startup story back in August of 2012, I was eager to jump on board and be a part of the development from the ground up. Betsy owned a children’s bookstore for 10 years in Westchester, New York. Needless to say, she knows the meaning of hard work, determination, and stamina when it comes to starting, owning, and operating a retail business as a female entrepreneur. Her latest endeavor stems from her appreciation and longtime experience with running a small business.
Living in New York has many perks, one of which is the ability to walk everywhere to get from point A to point B. After walking and biking 100 blocks from East to West (river to river if you’re unfamiliar with the geography of Manhattan), Betsy quickly came to realize how many hidden gems this city truly holds. In comparison to the avenues (the larger streets that run North to South that receive significantly more media coverage), these side streets receive less foot traffic, thus less exposure.
As a passion project and a desire to help these side street businesses, Manhattan Sideways was born.
Manhattan Sideways is a website that lists every single non-residential establishment on the side streets, in order from East to West. Each listing contains basic information such as the address, phone numbers, hours, and website, but they also contain a short write up from Betsy’s growing team of writers and staff, along with beautiful professional photography and videos to go along with many of the listings. The goal of this site is to encourage tourists and locals alike to take a different route to work, to walk home from the Subway station on a different street, and to explore the gems that they may have never known to exist in their own neighborhoods.In reality, Manhattan Sideways is not just a startup of its own – it's a startup helping to support many other startups, as well as many existing NYC staples. For me, this was a big part of the attraction. From its infancy, I had the ability to help a company that was helping other companies grow. I see it as a win-win for everyone.
As any New Yorker knows, businesses in this city come and they go in the blink of an eye. Betsy and her team aim to reach these businesses before it’s too late – before they disappear from the NYC grid – so that she can give them the exposure and foot traffic that they deserve. Manhattan Sideways is ready to grow. More and more each day, the urgency to hire more staff, to pound the pavement, and to share the stories of these New York City gems is apparent.
Through social media, email campaigns, and word of mouth, Manhattan Sideways is gaining more and more exposure every day and bringing more business to some of these incredible establishments. They recently partnered with Field Trip and launched a Kickstarter campaign so that they can build an app to go along with the site. With this app, any person with a smart phone will be able to bring these stories with them on-the-go, and they’ll be able to look up the closest accessories boutique, coffee shop, gluten-free bakery, veterinarian, etc. in their area. With the help of New Yorkers and fans of small businesses alike, this project will be able to stay alive and thriving.
Every street has a story, and Manhattan Sideways wants to share it with the world!