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Meet the Man Leading the Connected-Home Revolution

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This story appears in the June 2014 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

With all the backyard startups in Palo Alto, Calif., a good garage can be hard to find. But behind an uninspired, blue Craftsman-style home long since converted into offices, Nest Labs founders Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers came across something even better: a bad one. "It was a pull-up garage door, not the best design," says Rogers, the company's 31-year-old vice president of engineering. "But the charm was that this was a really scrappy, early company, and this was a good place to start it."

During Nest's first summer in 2010, the small, stealth team frequently worked with the door open; birds and squirrels often invaded the space. Their then-secret product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, with its brushed-metal casing and LCD display, was still far from the slick device the world knows today. Instead, the gadget was a giant green printed circuit board mounted to the wall. A victim of the garage's draftiness, "it would run super hot, then super cold," Rogers says. "Good times."

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