AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Brian Sharples, Co-founder and CEO of HomeAway, has been named the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur Of The Year ® 2012 Services Award winner. The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award is the country's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses. Sharples was recognized for combining his entrepreneurial desire and innate ability to spot business opportunities to develop the world's leading online vacation rental marketplace, HomeAway. He was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year gala, the culminating event of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum ® in Palm Springs, Calif. The Forum is the nation's premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in nine additional categories. All Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges from 244 regional award recipients. "Brian's ability to first see an opportunity and then develop a successful business model in an industry that was relatively unheard of just 10 years ago is the mark of a true entrepreneur," said Bryan Pearce, Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year, Ernst & Young LLP. "He saw a gap in the market and build a world-class business to fill it." The birth of a global vacation rental marketplace After building and selling a successful marketing data and research company in his 30s, Sharples took some time to travel the world with his family and figure out his next move. He quickly discovered that he much preferred renting vacation homes – with their added space and full kitchens – over standard hotel rooms, but he found the experience of finding and booking a home online to be difficult. These frustrations uncovered what Sharples considered an untapped market and led to his idea to build the world's largest vacation rental marketplace. In 2005, Sharples co-founded HomeAway, and the following year he launched the company's website after acquiring six vacation rental sites. Understanding that choice is paramount for travelers, Sharples spent the next five years focusing on organic growth for his vacation rental sites and building his customer base by acquiring 17 additional vacation rental sites. Today, the company has more than 640,000 vacation rental listings across 168 countries.