And the winner of the Rackspace startup competition is…

There was snickering, laughter, talent and disaster. The Rackspace Small Teams Big Impact startup competition had everything you would see on X Factor Australia, minus the make-up and overwhelming stench of desperation. It was a competition of ideas. And indeed, the best won.

In front of the star-studded guest panel and an audience 150-strong, each of the 10 finalists delivered a five-minute pitch to persuade Rackspace’s Startup Liaison Officer, Robert Scoble, who flew in from San Francisco’s Silicon Valley to attend the event, and his fellow judges that their business has the greatest potential for disrupting an industry.

And the winner was Ollo Mobile. Their voice controlled, cloudphone technology – seeking to replace the panic button service for the elderly with a more user-friendly option – is expected to improve the safety and communication of families worldwide and bring a new wave of innovation to the rapidly booming global telehealth industry.

Interestingly, just before Hugh Geiger, the entrepreneurial brains behind Ollo Mobile presented his pitch, the host of the event joked, “this person has had the benefit of listening to all the feedback from nine presentations so there is no excuse if he doesn’t win!” The audience chuckled. And indeed, he won. No excuse needed.

Ollo Mobile

Geiger (above left) won a round-trip to San Francisco to visit the world-famous Silicon Valley, meet with investors, and profile their product to the world.

He will also be interviewed in Scoble’s studio, talking about Ollo Mobile in front of his huge global audience: 335,000 Twitter followers, and 500,000 Facebook fans.

There were also two runner-ups that didn’t go empty-handed. OpenLearning and Clipp won $1000 worth of cloud-hosting credit with Rackspace.

The other startups that deserve a mention is Digital Sorbet and Revolutionise for their eloquent presentations.

robert

After the event I had the honour of chatting to the charismatic and Google-Glasses-loving Robert Scoble (above right) who said he was quite impressed with the ideas put forth by the Australian startup finalists. The only piece of advice he has to offer to Australian startups is to dream bigger and aim higher.

“The culture in Silicon Valley is like ‘you’ve got to transform the world’, not just make something cute.”

More information on Rackspace Australia is available on www.rackspace.com.au.