Nick Godin and Mike Fogg were supposed to be writing a sociology paper sophomore year when they started tossing around ideas about how they could make some extra money. Godin had recently been on a plane where he watched his flight's pattern on the monitor embedded in the seat in front of him. What if there was something like that for people waiting for the campus bus?
After months of research on transit markets and transit software applications, "blirp it" was born. "The only place we could find something like this was N.C. State and they had spent a lot of money on theirs," recalls Fogg, an art and graphic design major who is also a self-taught Web designer.
A year later, the bus tracking system market finds some pretty big-time competitors for blirp it, and some service a dozen or more campuses. But blirp it's text messaging and secure UVM login are features that make them stand out among the competitors. Another distinction? The inventors are college students.
"The downside of this happening now is that we're two college students with school to deal with, but the upside is that we're two college students," Fogg says. "We get feedback about what people want and we have friends at other colleges so we know what organizations need through access to their students."
UVM was more than accommodating in letting Godin and Fogg test out their product — all of UVM's buses now have on-board GPS devices. People waiting for the bus can either check the website or call the route up on a cell phone or handheld device. The bus locations are updated every five seconds.
Fogg says that blirp it's main mission is environmental: "If you know you can pick up the bus in 45 seconds at this stop, why not take the bus? It's easier, it's more convenient, people avoid parking. The more people who use public transportation, the fewer who use cars."
Currently, several potential customers for blirp it are in the works. Godin, a physical education major, handles the marketing and sales. "I never really saw it going this far," he says. "In the past we thought of some pretty crazy inventions but this idea was the most realistic and has really gone far."