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Meet the Man Leading the Connected-Home Revolution Former Apple exec Matt Rogers co-founded Nest, a smart-home product company that went from a garage startup to a $3.2 billion business.

By John Patrick Pullen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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."

Four years later, good times have never been better for Nest. With just two products, the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, the company has quickly emerged as a leader in the connected-home space, and in January the startup was bought by Google for the staggering sum of $3.2 billion.

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