Todd Pedersen, the CEO and founder of Provo, Utah-based home automation company Vivint, prides himself on his company's competitive culture.
"We're a competitive group, too competitive," said Pedersen, 44, who is prone to wearing bright, wide-rimmed baseball hats emblazoned with his company's name. "But if you don't have that mentality, you won't fit in very well at Vivint."
Vivint is going to need this competitive spirit for what the company is planning in the upcoming year: Becoming a dominant player in the field of solar installation — as well as opening up business in New Zealand in a few weeks and Australia shortly after.
His company, which was recently listed as 46 on Forbes' list of "Most Promising Companies" for 2013, is in a unique position to take on big U.S. solar installers, such as SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity. As a company that first started out as a security company and then moved into home automation and energy management systems, Vivint can hook its solar system in with its automation system already installed.
"When we can bring to bear other services that integrate with solar — lighting control, thermostat, analytics around energy usage — that to me doesn't just like a solid product, that is a more solid product," said Pedersen.
In a system like Vivint's, customers control everything about their homes — lights, thermostat, solar activity, security — from a smartphone or a central control panel in their homes.
Vivint launched its solar program in January 2012. Currently, it has 4,500 solar systems installed and another 3,000 on the way. With 30 to 40 new solar systems installed every day, Pedersen plans to see 10,000 or more systems installed by the end of 2013. Pedersen is also planning an aggressive hiring plan with 600 new hires this year for mostly sales and installation in solar — though in another interview he stated that the number of hires would be 400.
"We have a five-to-six-year lag in our start to be a SolarCity, but we believe with our sales and installation machine, we think we'll track them down," he said.
Vivint's already got 700,000 total customers using one form of its system. Last year 58 percent of its new customers included the home automation system. Now the company needs to convince more of its existing and future customer base to adopt solar.
Even more radical than the future of home automation, Vivint is in the process of developing a zero emission home that includes all of its solar and home automation features and can be rolled out in partnership with homebuilders. Pedersen said it plans to have its first showcase home finished in three to four months.
Next page: Tremendous amount of pressure