The founders of VentureCamp were unsure what would happen when they stuck 12 tech entrepreneurs in an Indianapolis mansion to work together and form functioning digital startups in only two months.
Camp CEO Giadha DeCarcer said she saw it as a “human experiment.”
The results, she said, have been largely successful.
Three companies launched during the eight-week boot camp, which began in June and was held at the opulently eclectic Kessler Mansion on the Northeastside. Some found the ordeal so stressful that they left only a few weeks into the camp.
“Every day it was something new and surprising,” DeCarcer said. “Positive or not.”
To wrap up the exhaustive experience, entrepreneurs put on their game faces Thursday and pitched their digital startups to about 10 local investors at the SpeakEasy, a Broad Ripple gathering place for tech professionals.
While none of the teams clinched investments the day of the demo, senior adviser and spokesman Patrick Mellody said investors already have started reaching out to the startups.
“Since day one their pitches have exponentially changed,” he said. “They’re really prepared to speak to investors now.”
After an orientation week of workshops and advice from seasoned business leaders, the participants were thrown into a room and instructed to form their own groups. At that point, most were complete strangers.
“It had to be an organic process,” DeCarcer said. “We found out some mornings people had been poached from other teams overnight, and now there were new teams.”
The campers also were filmed from sunup to sundown. The footage is being touted to TV channels as a “docue-series,” Mellody said, but without the usual drama of reality television.
In the end, four entrepreneurs decided to leave the camp.
“In our experiment some of the mice found the cheese,” said Jeff Hoffman, camp co-founder and founding member of online travel booking website Priceline.com. “And some of the mice ran out of the maze and ran home.”