Kessler Mansion hosts business boot camp


It is one of, if not "the" best known houses in Indianapolis. You see it and you don't forget it, not at 25,000 square feet and not with all those special touches like the many dolphin statues, gargoyle light fixtures and multi-level intertwined decks.

The Kessler Mansion at 4923 Kessler Blvd. E. Drive has long been a curiosity, ever since the late builder Jerry Hostetler bought a simple ranch some 30 years ago, started adding on and never stopped.

It was on market last year for $2.2 million. It didn't sell, but it's since found a new use and one that's putting Indy on the map for a new reason. For the past six weeks, the Kessler Mansion has been the home of VentureCamp, a boot camp for budding entrepreneurs.

CEO and co-founder Giadha Aguirre de Carcer said, "What is the mission? The mission is to launch three companies."

Twelve people (now down to eight) were chosen to take part in an intensive eight-week program whereby they develop and pitch their ideas for start-up companies.

Michael Coffey, a VentureCamp advisor said, "When it comes to people we were looking for, it's people with heart, an idea, and not just talking about it but executing it."

As for the type of ideas, De Carcer said, "It's a bit of a mixed bag, but all have a strong online and tech element to them. It's solving problems in industries ranging from travel to cooking to social networks."

So, why Indy? De Carcer says, why not?

"Entrepreneurship is not something blooming only in Silicon Valley...It's a global phenomenon happening across the U.S. and we're very happy to prove that it's in Indianapolis too," she said.

And why the Kessler Mansion?

Coffey said it was available and not being used. Plus, one of VentureCamp's co-founders owns it.

"The way it's constructed provides a good layout for living space, it's a good place go get work done and decompress," he said.

The Kessler Mansion is actually not one house, but five separate buildings connected by decks. Boot camp participants live, work and eat at the property - VentureCamp has its own chef, who provides three meals a day.

Coffey understands the continuing fascination with the property. His first reaction at seeing it?

"What the's unbelievable what was built here. Everybody when they drive by asks what is that?" he said.

But De Carcer said it's worked well for the program.

"We think it's the perfect canvas for what we're trying to achieve, pushing boundaries. We're doing something non-traditional and this place is anything but traditional," she said.

And video cameras are capturing it all. Besides the boot camp, VentrueCamp is doing a docu-series which it's shopping for online distribution.

De Carcer said, "We want to educate, entertain and empower entrepreneurs everywhere to join the journey."

The journey in Indy ends July 26th. The plan is hold other camps in different locales around the world.