Tired of paper transit tickets? (updated)

Today, I want to step away from coffee for just a moment. One of my favorite things to talk about is entrepreneurship, and I have something I would like to share with you.

When I’m out traveling around the city, I prefer to walk or take public transportation. Walking around, you really get the feel of a place, and on the bus or the train, you don’t have to stress about traffic.

Since I take the bus and the train pretty regularly, I can say with confidence that it would be nice to be able to pay for tickets using an app on my phone, especially when riding the bus. Even better, the phone would serve as a ticket itself.

Tri-Met (Portland’s public transit agency) doesn’t have a system like that yet. However, a couple of my classmates from Portland State’s MIM program are trying change that. Nat Parker and Michael Gray have started a company called GlobeSherpa to develop mobile phone apps, and their most promising app at this time is called TransitSherpa, an app that acts as an electronic ticket management system for Tri-Met. I’ll let Nat explain:

Their company is currently in negotiations with Tri-Met to make the system a reality, but they need some funding to speed things up. Tomorrow evening, at 5:30pm, Nat and Michael will be at the Backspace café/pub competing in the second-to-last round of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network’s Seed Oregon competition, a competition that helps start-up companies with funding and guidance. The winner is determined by popular vote of the audience, so the more supporters TransitSherpa has, the better chance it has to win. The winning company gets to present at the Angel Oregon conference in March, where it could acquire the funding it is looking for.

If you think that a Tri-Met ticket app is something that you would rather have sooner than later, come by Backspace tomorrow evening at 5:30 and support TransitSherpa. It costs $25, which I know is kind of steep, but it’s supposed to include some kind of food and drink spread. In addition, Nat has promised me that he’s going to be especially entertaining during his presentation.

You might wonder if I get anything out of this advertisement for them. Nope. I’m just spreading the word for them and trying to speed up the process of creating a Tri-Met ticket app. It’s 2011, and the time for e-tickets is here. Let’s help TransitSherpa make it happen.

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Update: GlobeSherpa won by two votes! Congratulations and good luck at the next round.