Prepare to Design the Future
March 19–20, 2017: Training
March 20–22, 2017: Tutorials & Conference
San Francisco, CA

Lessons learned from the Highway1 hardware accelerator

Rafi Ajl (Highway1)
4:25pm–5:05pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Technology, tools, and process
Location: California East
Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 2 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Designers, design leadership, entrepreneurs, and engineers

What you'll learn

  • Understand how the Highway1 accelerator helps hardware startups unearth core value, validate hypotheses, and challenge assumptions


Our closets and garages are filled with forgotten products, the results of single-minded determination toward validating an assumption. Things don’t come into the world as fully formed awesome expressions: they are the result of a rigorous design process. Hardware startups are in a unique position to test multiple hypotheses, validate trajectories, and fail quickly, as they can test and iterate without entrenched hierarchies and inflexible decision-making systems. This offers them a powerful opportunity: by staying open and flexible through testing and trial and error, a team can find the core value that results in delivering the awesome.

Rafi Ajl shares lessons learned from 40 hardware teams who have gone through the Highway1 accelerator—enabling you to listen to people and the world around you and chase down the insights that differentiate the merely good from the truly great.

Photo of Rafi Ajl

Rafi Ajl


Rafi Ajl leads design at Highway1, where he works with incubated teams to bridge the space between the complexity of engineering and the poetics of design and focuses on user experience, industrial design, and product development to help the teams deliver the awesome. With experience in architecture, visual art, and furniture making, he works across and through disciplines to create meaningful and insightful experiences. In his personal practice, Rafi operates Imperfect Evidence, a small design concern specializing in the physical, built world, which seeks to engage people in mindful ways to enable a mindful engagement and a sense of curiosity and inquiry in the world around them through object and environmental design and experience design. Imperfect Evidence approaches design through rigorous, process-oriented design thinking, solving problems and asking questions through research, writing, and form making. Rafi holds an MFA in design from the California College of the Arts and a bachelor of arts from Hampshire College. He currently learns, works, and teaches in San Francisco, California. His mantra is “process is progress; progress is process.”