Central Ohio entrepreneurs, inventors and investors came out in force to show the world the strength of the region's startup community as part of the first ever multi-city Meetup dedicated to startups. And, as part of the event, a company co-founded by former UA resident and Bishop Watterson High School grad Bob Kington took top honors in an international business-pitch competition.

Central Ohio entrepreneurs, inventors and investors came out in force to show the world the strength of the region's startup community as part of the first ever multi-city Meetup dedicated to startups. And, as part of the event, a company co-founded by former UA resident and Bishop Watterson High School grad Bob Kington took top honors in an international business-pitch competition.

Resort Rentals by Owner (RRBO.com), the company co-founded by Kington and Mike Blackwell, both former executives at AOL, took top honors in the global business-pitch competition, beating out eight contenders locally to represent Columbus and then besting eight other startups from the U.S. and the U.K.

West Coast entrepreneur and angel investor Jason Calacanis, moderator of the weekly podcast, This Week in Startups (TWiST), organized the event, which was designed to bring together startup groups from around the world to pitch their group's best and brightest startups before a worldwide audience of 175 cities where Meetups were being held simultaneously.

It was a great night for central Ohio startups with:
RRBO.com being selected for top honors in the business pitch competition - Out of nine startups locally, RRBO.com was chosen to represent Columbus to compete among nine startups from other U.S. cities and London. From this field, RRBO.com was chosen by event participants for top honors, tying for first place with a Chicago startup. Central Ohio having the most number of people sign up for the meetup - 115 people voted to make Columbus one of the 10 cities out of 175 worldwide which was selected to participate in the webcast during the 2 ?-hour live event. This was more than any other city including Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco or Santa Monica/Los Angeles where TWiST and the Webcast originated. The most number of local startups vying for the honor of presenting to the worldwide audience - Nine local startups presented their three-minute/three-slide presentations for consideration. Most of the other cities only had three startups under consideration. The most number of participants on hand for the webcast event - More than 60 people attended the live webcast event at TechColumbus. RRBO.com is a newly launched online marketplace that enables resort timeshare owners to rent their units to vacation travelers, while managing and guaranteeing payment. As it happened, the site went live on the very day of the Meetup.
"With RRBO.com launching this week, being featured on TWiST will be a great opportunity to introduce our business to venture capital firms, and the innovative product to consumers," says Kington.

Locally, the event was organized by Kevin Gadd, director of IT Commercialization for TechColumbus. Gadd learned of the multicity Startup Meetup event when it was first announced just two weeks ago. He immediately signed Columbus up and put the call out for entries and participants through various channels. From there the tech community took over.

"I was amazed at the speed and the success of how we were able to mobilize the tech community," says Gadd. "The first few days the number of people who voted to have Central Ohio as one of the featured Meetup locations shot us out front of all other metros - a position we maintained for the most part until voting ended." (Santa Monica overtook Columbus briefly by less than 10 votes during the last day of voting, but central Ohio came back and won in the final count.)

"This was the perfect example of all those formal and informal networks involved in technology and entrepreneurship in the region coming together and helping put central Ohio on the map," says Gadd. "It just shows we're doing something right here."