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.

Current portfolio of startups that we are actively invested in

Some of our partner organizations that provide benefits to our entrepreneurs

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 opportunities.


Good for both entrepreneurs and investors


A business concept is only valuable if there are dogs that want to eat the dog food; we focus on the high-impact function of finding product-market fit before precious time and money is wasted. Finding and validating a Value Hypothesis – the reason a customer will use a product or service – is especially valuable in our context, in which the inventions and designs of our entrepreneurs may already be the product of substantial investment.


We pull a large number of the earliest-stage entrepreneurs from the region; work closely with each of these entrepreneurs over an extended period, focusing on customer discovery and concept validation; and, invest in a select few. By employing a focused and disciplined approach we can maximize the possibility of successfully leveraging the pre-existing investments in intellectual property.


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.


August 2015

Helynx wins a $20,000 Clinical Trial Innovation Prize from the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) and Free to Breath!


August 2015

Idealab hosts Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the US Small Business Administration


August 2015

The Design Accelerator's Managing Directors, Mark Goodstein and Richard Weil, join Helynx as advisors

July 2015

The Design Accelerator begins with a handful of entrepreneurs! Announcements to follow ...


July 2015

The Design Accelerator Managing Director, Mark Goodstein, serves as a judge in Hanergy's Thin-Film Solar Product Global Innovation Competition in Beijing




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

The Design Accelerator is at work! More soon ...

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