Todd Pedersen started his entrepreneurial journey cleaning toilets and is now the CEO of a multi-billion dollar home security company. He continues his journey with a gritty, passionate and expansive mindset.
Todd Pedersen is the founder and CEO of Vivint, a public company that installs smart home security systems, mainly through door-to-door sales. Pedersen’s entrepreneurial journey began when he started his first businesses right off of an LDS mission as a full time BYU student.
“When I got off my mission my mom and dad cut me off financially, like completely. I started a sheet rocking business and a housecleaning business to get myself through school,” Pedersen said.
In 1991, Pedersen had a friend who worked for a pest control company in California and made $10,000 in one summer. Pedersen said he drove to California to meet the owner of the company with hopes to get a job for the upcoming summer. The owner refused to hire him, despite Pedersen owning multiple businesses, being a full-time student and having no debt.
“I was so fired up, drove home from Sacramento and I called him like 10 more times,” Pedersen said. “’Scott you have to hire me, this is the biggest mistake of your life. Why won’t you hire me?’ He said, ‘Eh, I just don’t think you’ll do well.’”
This experience sparked Peterson’s initial drive for success in the door-knocking industry. He said his intention was to start up a pest control company and “put Scott Harman out of business.”
He called up hundreds of pest control companies on the west coast asking if he could knock doors and create new customers. Terminix was the only pest control business that told him he could knock doors and work straight commission with no guaranteed pay.
“I went to Arizona with 10 of my buddies. We lived in a trailer, no electricity, no water, but it was free. I made 80 grand that summer and made override on my buddies. I made enough money to pay for the rest of school,” Pedersen said.
Terminix then lent him $1 million dollars to hire 100 more people to knock doors. Pedersen said he hired about 120 people and made $850,000 that next year, but didn’t spend a dime of it. He eventually dropped out of BYU, not because of his growing bank account, but because he had a “30-page paper due and didn’t want to do it.”
“I dropped out of school and hired about 300 people and just kept going,” Pedersen said. “I wanted out of pest control; I didn’t love it. Then I started in the security space about six years later.”
Doing business the right way
Jared Young, Vivint vice president of sales and marketing, decided to work for Pedersen when he realized how honest he was. Young said he believed in the company because Pedersen emphasized doing business the right way.
Young said Pedersen reminds him to stay humble and keep pushing despite the success that comes their way. “I need to continue self-developing, not just for me but for the people that I’m responsible for. So that’s what I love about Todd, is he pushes you to be better,” Young said.
Young said Pedersen doesn’t take his phone out while talking to people and he treats everyone in any position with kindness. “I’ve seen Todd bring a lot of really talented people to this business not because we had the biggest or the best offer, but because he was very genuine.”
Pedersen’s wife Andie Pedersen expressed how present he is with their family and that he goes out of his way to be a part of their lives. Andie said when he’s home, he is present with the kids, doesn’t show any signs of stress and treats everyone with kindness.
“I think the thing he has focused on the most since our kids were little, and has brought up at least weekly or a couple times a week, is to always treat people kind no matter what,” Andie said.
When Pedersen was asked what contributed to his entrepreneurial mindset he said he always liked making his own money and not having to be dependent on others. “It was a huge gift to be given nothing financially,” he said.
Pedersen shared a unique experience that gives insight into his entrepreneurial mindset. “First time I went to a BYU football game, I walked in and I didn’t think, ‘Oh, sweet football game,’ I thought, ‘man there’s 60,000 people in here. If I could just make a dollar off of every person in here a month, that would be sick.’”
Vision for the future
Pedersen’s next step for Vivint is to take it to a $50 billion dollar company in five years. This is possible through expanding in other aspects of the company such as solar and homeowners insurance, Pedersen said.
He doesn’t see himself retiring anytime soon even though people that know him call him crazy for working so hard with the amount of success he’s had. “I work a lot and intensely. I’m not doing it for the money, it’s for a way bigger dream,” Pedersen said.
“It’s almost like the harder he works, his mind creates and comes up with more ideas and I think he’s been more like that even in the last year and a half or two,” Andie said. “At first it was alarm systems and a few extra services, but I think now he thinks way beyond that.”
Pedersen has big goals that he doesn’t shy away from. He said he embraces challenges and doubters and thrives when problems arise.
“At the end of the day I want to be a nation-wide, consumer-wide, well known consumer brand,” Pedersen said. “Like having the opportunity to be inside every home in some form of fashion. Maybe not everything we do, but something we do.”