John Kestner


I'm a designer and developer who has worked for huge companies and started my own. I've helped create high-profile products that have generated billions of dollars, and niche products whose rewards were discovering and solving customers' pain points.

I love to define new products and systems out of broad directives and deep user empathy, and build them with a small team down to the details that make a memorable experience. I've gotten hands-on with many facets of shipping a product in order to better understand the whole. And sometimes because I had to show that it could be done.

As a developer, I prefer Python, Tornado, nginx, PostgreSQL, Objective C, vanilla JavaScript and HTML. But part of the job is learning new languages, frameworks and tools as the task requires.

As a designer, I prefer Affinity Designer, Pixelmator, sketching, and designing in code. I'm well-versed in Adobe Creative Suite. I can start at the beginning of a product, leading user research, brainstorming sessions and product briefs; or embrace the constraints of existing systems.


Founder/Principal, 2011-2018

My company/studio focused on the design, development and manufacture of future connected products. Bootstrapped it all, beginning with Twine, the first consumer Internet of Things product and third-largest Kickstarter campaign ever at the time. Challenged myself in new domains in order to be able to ship, and learned a lot. Managed team of six, designed and managed products, created product launches, wrote code. Also consulted for Samsung, Alen Corp, iCache, early-stage startups, others. I've been profiled in Wired, and our products have been in the Wall Street Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, InStyle, Wired, etc.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media Lab

Master of Science, Media Arts and Sciences

Graduate student and research assistant in the Information Ecology research group (primary investigator: Henry Holtzman). Ffocused on simpler human-computer interface through connected objects, and helping people change their behavior by delivering just the needed feedback in the right context. My speculative products were featured in Wired, New York Times, CNN, NPR, Domus, Ars Electronica, others.

Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute of Design

Master of Design, Product Design

One year completed. Got to practice design research and thinking, but was too far away from product design.


Webmaster, lead digital designer, 1997-2004

Created and maintained—design, code and operation, then led the design team and advocated online experience internally. Authored U-Haul's online design language. Design architect for online reservations and other ecommerce efforts. Spearheaded several new products, including the eMove marketplace, which is Uber for independent movers (before Uber was a thing). Made and saved untold billions for the company.

Arizona State University, School of Design

Bachelor of Science, Industrial Design

Emphasis on human factors and ethnographic research.

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