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Alice Nell
December 1, 2015

Meet Cory James Hohs, CEO of Haas

Cory James Hohs is a great example of a proactive go-getter who left his day job at Nokia to start his own company: a multidisciplinary design consultancy on mobile app development & branding. At first, the company only focused on mobile apps, but eventually it also starting developing IoT connected hardware. In January 2015, Cory took part in our Introduction to Arduino workshop in order to develop HAAS, a device that knows when and from where emergency vehicles are approaching. Last May, HAAS was selected for a presentation at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. It also was selected as a finalist for TechWeek, both in Chicago and Detroit.

How did you come up with the idea for HAAS?

My team and I wanted to make a connected IoT device for detecting emergency vehicles. We got the idea because I was almost killed by an ambulance while driving my motorcycle. We decided to go fully dedicated to and it became its own independent company HAAS.

When you took part in the Arduino Workshop at betahaus, did you already have the idea to start your own agency?

I already had the concept in the works - Janitor had a portfolio, a few clients, and an expanding team. I wanted to prototype a new product called HAAS, and TomorrowLab told me, "Well, you can make the prototype yourself if you know Arduino...". So I took the course.



What is your greater vision behind everything?

For HAAS, we have a consumer device plan, but the long-term vision is to license our technology in connected motorcycle helmets, connected bicycle helmets, the autonomous driving/connected car, and even noise-canceling headphones. We recently took part in a technology accelerator in Michigan that focused on automotive. We came away with a strategic partnership with Faurecia - a Tier 1 automotive supplier. We are currently looking for funding to get us to the next round of our product.

When you compare Berlin to the US, what difference hits you first?

Back in the States, it's more common than not that people aren't really looking to help you unless you walk in with a promise of a "Unicorn" company or millions in funding already. In Berlin, I would simply ask people about anything I was interested in, whether it was about tech, a place to eat, where to see good art, and so on. And I would always get plenty of recommendations - even with my limited German skills. Starting a company, especially in technology, you need that open mindset from peers and leaders to help guide you - in my experience, Berlin has a much more open and cooperative sharing of ideas and skills than the majority of places back home.

What do you like about betahaus?

I love that the courses are for all levels, so if someone was a beginner in a course, those who were more advanced would always help the others. Plus, it wasn't a "I need to guard my project" vibe – it was much more of an inviting and open-learning atmosphere than what I've experienced elsewhere.

What’s your favourite Startup at the moment?

That's a tough question. I know it's cheating since it's not really a "startup", but I'd have to say Skully. I want that motorcycle helmet so bad! There's also a similar technology for snowboarding where you have an insert in your goggles that opens up displays for listening to music, seeing data about other friends, etc. I tried it once and I had to have it.


Check out www.haasalert.com to preorder HAAS and to find out what they've been up to lately. Click here if you want to become part of the betahaus community?

Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different. 

Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally. 

Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.

Photo by Lea GK

Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.

Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte

Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.

Want to get in touch with Obst Digital? Come around betahaus | Neukölln and meet them here or send them an email to contact@obst.digital !


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