Founder of the month: prenode

Philipp Hauff
Founder of the month

What does your company stand for?


Artificial intelligence (AI) helps companies gain valuable insights from raw data. To do this, an AI model must first be laboriously developed based on this data. prenode drastically reduces the development time of AI models by enabling the secure exchange of AI models across company boundaries. Additionally, these models improve with each exchange, resulting in a “best-in-class” model for specific application areas over time – all without revealing confidential data or compromising trade secrets.



Where and how did you get the bright idea to found the company?


Ronny and I are researchers at KSRI/KIT and deal with artificial intelligence from two angles: While Ronny has focused on the economic implications of data-driven business models and integrated platforms, I am researching the use and exchange of artificial intelligence in systems of different companies from a technical perspective. Talking to companies, we quickly realized that they often find it difficult to get started with AI due to the high initial investment, but many companies face very similar problems. Since this is a question that often occupies us in research, we thought: Why don’t we put our theoretical findings into practice?

How did the founding team come together?


As I said, we have already discovered many synergies in our joint research. Why we decided to found the company in this particular constellation is because of our very complementary skills. We both know about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can thus use them very well. We also have a lot of fun working together. A strong relationship of trust was important to us when we founded the company.



What do you see as the advantages of being your own boss?


This may sound a bit trite, but we have both had experience with large corporations and therefore know both sides. As your own boss, you can make any decision as you see fit. This includes big, fundamental decisions that are decisive for the next steps of the company, but also an incredible breadth of topics. Building something of our own with our team is a great feeling!



What trait should you bring to the table as a founder?


Perseverance is definitely a very important quality. In a start-up, a lot can change in a short period of time. Problems always pop up out of nowhere and opportunities sometimes arise very quickly. As a founder, you have to be flexible and decisive in both situations.



Where do you see the hurdles on the way to a successful company? Where did you get support?


There are certainly a few! Getting financing on your feet and finding highly qualified employees are certainly among them. But the most important thing for us is access to customers. Our offering is aimed not least at decision-makers in larger companies. It’s not always easy for startups to gain access to these, which is why we also rely on strategic partnerships and support in our network.



How did you deal with the increased workload during the start-up phase?


Perfectionism is good when it comes to developing a complex technology, but created problems for us especially in everyday, not necessarily crucial activities. We therefore try to prioritize tasks better and pay attention to our workload.



Do you have any tips for other young company founders?


Yes, probably a rather unconventional tip: Having a safe haven is not always the worst thing! In the startup environment, you often hear that it’s good to go “all-in” to make sure you take things seriously – and that’s true! However, we have been additionally working at the research institute for a while now and building the start-up on the side. While this means we can’t invest all of our time, it also allows us to slowly, thoughtfully build the business. We can talk to customers, develop our business model and make informed decisions without prioritizing short-term gains to the detriment of long-term success. If this creates synergies with our main business, all the better! In the long run, of course, it also means “all-in” for us, but especially for the critical initial phase, a safe haven is advantageous.





Company: prenode GmbH
Founders: Robin Hirt, Dr. Ronny Schüritz
Foundation: November 2018
Email contact:
Industry: Software & Information Technology

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