New York startup SideTour has finally launched its marketplace for fun and wide-ranging experiences in Chicago, giving the young company a chance to test its concept in a second city.
SideTour has offered hundreds of “experiences” to New York City denizens for about the past 12 months, including a dining meetup with a famous chef who cooks for the group and an opportunity to spend time with a banker-turned-monk at an East Village monastery. The site finds experts to host these get-togethers and takes a 20 percent cut of the fees each expert charges for the experience. On average, group size for events is 8 to 12 people. It can also host events specifically for private groups and companies.
“When we started were booking maybe three tours a week in New York,” CEO and co-founder Vipin Goyal told VentureBeat. “Now we’re doing three SideTours on average every day in New York.”
Goyal said that the site not only provides a great time for people looking for outings, but it also can be profitable for the experts that host. He claimed that one New York chef doing SideTours generates $1,700 a week from her dining meetups.
Now the site brings its concept to Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. and one ripe with unqiue things and experts you can only find in Chicago. A few of the experiences listed on the Chicago part of site include making cocktails with expert mixologist Revae Schneider, attending a dinner prepared personally by well-known chef Carrie Nahabedian and taking a tour of Chicago’s street art on the West Loop with curator Nick Marzullo.
Next up, SideTour will launch in Washington D.C. before the end of 2012. After that, Goyal said the company hasn’t finalized where it will head next. Major cities including Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco will be considered.
“Some people were surprised that we’re going to Chicago and D.C. first and then spread out,” Goyal said. “We haven’t decided other cities just yet, but we’ll learn from the first markets and use that to help us decide where to go next.”
SideTour somewhat competes with Vayable, and Lifecrowd, other sites where people can find things to do in their city. Sidetour was founded in June 2011 and has raised $1.5 million to date from investors including RRE Ventures, Foundry Group, and Matt Turck. The company has 13 employees, all of which take SideTours frequently to help better understand the product.
You can take a look at some of Chicago’s first experiences in the photo below.
Chicago photo via Shutterstock