An entrepreneur's creative castle

Getting to know Scott Jones - and his mansion.

By Julie Sloane, FSB Contributor

(FSB Magazine) Indianapolis -- Eager to learn what makes Jones tick, we showed up at the wrought-iron gate of his 53-acre estate in Carmel. Flanked by four-foot-tall marble elephants, the gate opens onto a winding stone drive, lit by replicas of the lampposts in London's Trafalgar Square, which lead the visitor to a 27,000-square-foot mansion built in the style of an English country manor. He spent seven years and $20 million renovating the property.

The home features a 33-foot-high great room, an indoor tree house, a circular mahogany slide connecting two floors, a 25-foot-long saltwater aquarium, two waterfalls in the master bathroom, a separate indoor basketball court, and a full-scale cast of a T. rex skull. Jones's vintage technology collection includes a Victrola, a metal diving helmet, and a one-cylinder Brush automobile, which predates the Model T. The whole place is kept spotless and humming by a staff of 15, including two IT directors.

Summer intern Sarah McClamroch takes a slide in Jones's house.
Jones's Carmel, Ind., home, with its own IT staff, is his idea lab.

On this Wednesday evening the 47-year-old lord of the manor pads barefoot down the great-room staircase in a ChaCha T-shirt and cargo shorts and inquires of his visitor, "You hungry?" He heats up leftover Chinese food and eats off my plate when I'm done.

The 6-foot 5-inch Jones sits sideways in his living room club chair and dangles his leg over the side, kicking it back and forth, a metronome for his thoughts. He grins a lot and talks about how much he loved his grandmother.

With his wealth, accomplishments, and quirks - he hired Ray Charles to play at his 40th-birthday party and likes to walk into restaurants and order everything on the menu, just to taste it all - it's surprising that Jones isn't, well, a jerk. Where's the gold tank watch, the outsized ego, the faint air of superiority?

Quiz: How many entrepreneurial inventors can you name?

His friends and employees, investors, and even ex-girlfriends carry on at length about his humility. "Money hasn't changed him at all," says Lisa Hamilton, who sat in front of Jones in tenth-grade homeroom. "As long as I have known him, he has been true to himself."

He is, however, a stickler about his good reputation. "He doesn't like to be the bad guy," says his father, George, 73. "If there's a problem at the house, [his chief of staff] is the bad guy." Last year, when the Indianapolis Business Journal published an anonymous swipe at Jones from a "local angel investor" suggesting that "the Jones name has lost its luster" because of money lost on his "prior endeavors" - no investor has ever gone on the record saying anything negative about Jones, nor did any do so to FSB - Jones refused to grant interviews to the publication for a year. (He also claims that the article included embargoed information; IBJ says it never agreed to an embargo.)

Jones's life is choreographed to squeeze every possible cerebral moment from the day. He sleeps six hours and 45 minutes a night and not a minute more. (After studying his sleep patterns, he determined that to be the magic number for maximum productivity.) His day is scheduled to the minute by his chief of staff, Maggie Kauer, 56. "Precision" and "procedure" are two words she uses often.  Top of page

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