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Pokemon GO Fires Up Entrepreneurial Spirit of a Few Savvy New Yorkers

By  Nicole Levy and Allegra Hobbs | July 13, 2016 12:27pm 

 Ivy St. Ives and Sharif Byam have seen the game as an opportunity to make some extra cash.
Ivy St. Ives and Sharif Byam have seen the game as an opportunity to make some extra cash.
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Getty/Drew Angerer

The Pokemon GO craze has New Yorkers walking around the city at all hours of the night and day, consulting with strangers about the locations of rare virtual creatures, and, as Craigslist ads reveal, hatching new entrepreneurial ventures.

Clinton Hill resident and Uber driver Sharif Byam, 27, promoted "Poketours" in an ad promising players a "more SAFE and comfortable" Pokemon GO experience with transportation, air conditioning and wi-fi access for $15 an hour per person.

Sharif Byam

Sharif Byam, 27, an Uber driver offering Pokemon Go players tours around the city to collect game supplies (Credit: Facebook/Sharif Byam) 

Bushwick resident Ivy St. Ives, 24, took to the classifieds site Tuesday afternoon to advertise her Pokemon prowess — touting nearly two decades of gaming experience and a large Golbat tattoo as evidence of her obsession — and offer her services as a real-life Pokemon trainer. St. Ives promised to hunt down the collectible monsters for other players of the massively popular augmented reality game at a rate of $20 per hour.

MAP: Where Are You Finding Pokémon in New York City?

St. Ives' post was initially intended as a joke, said the would-be trainer and freelance journalist using a pseudonym in her advertisement, but the responses she had received as of Tuesday afternoon had been deadly serious. 

Interested parties included a lawyer living in lower Manhattan, a Nebraskan man who found his rural environs devoid of Pokemon, a woman living in Texas, who said her difficult pregnancy meant she couldn't catch as many Pokemon as her hyper-competitive husband. 

“I would love to be able to do this as a job — that’s pretty much my dream job if i could work it out,” St. Ives told DNAinfo Tuesday.


find me on craigslist #pokemongoals

A photo posted by @ivystive on

St. Ives' dreams were dashed after her story went viral and she received emails informing her that the game's creator, Niantic, could ban her for violating the company's terms of service. St. Ives, who said in an email to reporters that she would not risk banishment for a quick buck, had pulled her ad from the site by Wednesday morning.

RELATED: Here Are All the Pokemon Bar Crawls Happening in the City

Byam, though serious about his driving services and addicted to the game himself three days after downloading it on July 8, said he had yet to receive a response to his Craigslist ad when DNAinfo contacted him Tuesday. 

He had, however, already met by chance a client on the south side of Central Park, where he had parked his Toyota Camry in search of the rare Pokemon known to lurk there. Byam drove the player around the park's perimeter in search of loot.

"They wanted to hop in for a ride real quick," Byam said, "just to recharge their phone and restock their bag" with the loot available at Pokestops, which are places of interest where players can pick up Pokeballs to capture new beasts, and snacks and medicines for those they already carry with them. 

Walking around on foot is still the way to best way to capture and train Pokemon, Byam said, but he's willing to drive passengers to destinations where particular kinds have been sighted.

On Tuesday, he said he was planning to take friends to Sheepshead Bay, where they would likely find the flame-tailed Charmander.

”It’s all about bringing people together, this game," he said on Tuesday. "People I haven’t seen in five years, I’m about to see right now."

A third Pokemon GO enthusiast, allegedly living in Astoria and playing the game on three different smartphones, is advertising on Craiglist rides on a bus with "enough room to catch them all." 

"Are you like the average American, too lazy to catch them all? Well fret not! I'm here to make sure you don't lose time (and weight) using those things called feet," the ad reads.

The poster did not respond to a request for comment.