Building design-driven startups






We accelerate earliest-stage design and engineering entrepreneurs in greater Pasadena

The Design Accelerator is the product of a joint effort between top design school Art Center College of Design and leading research university Caltech, housed in the startup environment at Idealab.



Greater Pasadena has the raw material – people and ideas – to produce more world-changing startups than anyplace else in the world.

In 2013 Art Center College of Design established The Design Accelerator in partnership with California Institute of Technology and Idealab to capitalize on the opportunity to build startups in greater Pasadena. By virtue of the institutions and people involved, The Design Accelerator sees many talented early-stage entrepreneurs with truly significant ideas, which translates into great businesses.


Good for both entrepreneurs 
and investors


We pull a large number of the earliest-stage entrepreneurs from the region; run these entrepreneurs through a focused, metrics-driven process with an emphasis on lean startup principles; provide small stipends and workspace at Idealab to all of the many teams participating; and, invest in a select few.


The Design Accelerator is a farmer as much as an investor; we grow great companies. Success for The Design Accelerator is defined as funded companies (follow-on to our investment). By making investment decisions based on a long pre-investment period, we’re able to see the entrepreneurs in action long before we put significant capital at risk.

Current portfolio of startups that 
we are actively invested in

Some of our partner organizations that provide benefits to our entrepreneurs




Starts companies; founder of,, X1 Technologies, and the Progressive Automotive X-Prize among others; extensive, long-standing ties to Art Center, Caltech, Idealab, Innovate Pasadena, JPL and the broader Pasadena start-up community; founding executive board member of Innovate Pasadena; adjunct instructor with the Los Angeles NSF I-Corps node



Runs companies; financing, growth, M&A and restructuring experience with a diverse set of companies and institutions including MOCA, LiveGamer, Adapt Technologies, Weil Publishing,, Tokai Bank Europe, and The MAC Group; expertise in both for-profit and non-profit environments



Co-founder & Executive Chairman of The Design Accelerator, Inc.; leads Art Center’s new ventures in business and entrepreneurship, plus programs in China; served as the Dean at Art Center, the Provost at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design; founder of the World Design Impact Prize

We plan to bring new entrepreneurs into the Accelerator in late 2014.

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