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Contracts are optional with this DIY connected-home system

Jake Widman | April 14, 2015
Abode is designed like a product from ADT or Vivint, but its service plans are very different.

Aside from the absence of a keypad control panel, the Abode connected-home/home-security system looks much like a product you'd buy from ADT, Vivint, or one of the other major home-security dealers. But the people behind this Kickstarter campaign consider those companies' business models to be out of step with what people need these days.

"People are renting longer and starting their families in places they might only live for 12 months," says Chris Carney, which makes signing a multiyear contract with one of those service providers unattractive. So Carney and cofounder Brent Franks came up with Abode, a DIY system that doesn't need to be permanently installed and that doesn't require buyers to lock themselves into expensive long-term contracts in order to secure services such as professional monitoring. The duo seeks to raise $100,000 to ramp up production of their Abode system, and they're already three-quarters of the way there.

Carney began his career in home security at Tyco (ADT's parent company until the latter was spun off in 2011) in 2000 as a financial analyst supporting the ADT side of the business. "I felt proud that I worked for a company that was actually protecting other people," he recalls. He was also intrigued by the company's business model, with its reliance on recurring revenue sources.

But as he worked his way up the ranks, he didn't see the company making the kinds of technological advances he expected they'd need to keep up with the times. "I realized that we were still doing the same thing we were 15 years ago, and the technology hadn't shifted much," he recalls. "A lot of the things they talked about doing, they never actually did. With all the knowledge I had about the industry and the connections I had made, I ended up leaving about 18 months ago and starting my own company."

Carney's first step was to build a foundation of the most important things a new approach to home security systems could deliver. "One was to make it a true security product," he says. "We also wanted to have something that was beautifully designed, because a lot of the stuff out there is very commoditized--just plain plastic. We wanted to have innovative software, to make it so that software wasn't an afterthought. Every single thing that someone did to interact with the components of our system, we wanted to have the software to match that, from the installation process to responding to events. A great customer experience caps the "pyramid" that illustrates Abode's business philosophy. "Every decision we make as a company, we try to make them around those things first. That's how I came up with the product we have now," says Carney.


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