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Connecting the Nodes Going beyond financial and non-financial data to bring the vital network perspective into decision making.

unique track record

15+ years of systematic ecosystem monitoring and a pioneering role in applying network analysis.

highly complementary

diverse team in terms of nationality, languages, education, prior experience, and locations.

international awards

Mediterranean, Presidential, University related, and many other awards received for our research, and intelligence related work internationally.

Selected members

Our core team has a unique track record of 15+ years of systematic ecosystem monitoring and a pioneering role in applying network analysis.

It is a highly complementary and diverse team (in terms of nationality, languages, education, prior experience, and locations) and we set high standards in terms of education and company specific training (SNA Lab for students, see also SNA Lab as well as SNA at Work for academics) to identify future full time colleagues, working very close cooperation with leading universities.

Our team has won over two dozens of international, presidential and regional awards for its research with multiple seminal papers that have been cited globally by leading sources and developed unique processes, methodologies, systems, and databases to run our Ecosystem Intelligence service, the future of actionable intelligence.

The team has experience from 250 plus international projects with sector specific know how but also a deep understanding for the investment industry as well.

  • Dr. Murat Ünal
    Dr. Murat Ünal
    M.B.A, LL.M. in Frankfurt / Germany
  • Şekip Topçu
    Şekip Topçu
    B. Sc., Dipl. Ing., M.B.A. in Frankfurt / Germany
  • Nishtha Jolly
    Nishtha Jolly
    B.A., Math. (Hons) in Frankfurt / Germany
  • Debindra Dangol
    Debindra Dangol
    Nepal – Researcher
  • Sara-Nel Defne
    Sara-Nel Defne
    Edinburgh – Network Science & AI Lab Member
SONEAN Whitepaper October 2014

The crucial role of SNA for investments in startup companies

Based on a proprietary analysis of over 2000 startup companies in mainly Germany and beyond (predominantly Europe) and their ties to over 500 relevant investors from across the world (angel investors, VC funds across all stages, ranging from the West Coast in the US to Hong Kong) which have invested in those startups, we highlight the importance of social network analysis (SNA). The dynamic network screening, the social capital related insights as well as ongoing portfolio as well as stakeholder monitoring represent just a fraction of possibilities when it comes to social network analysis` relevance for investing in the startup ecosystem. Whether you invest directly, search for co-investors as an investor or even funding as a startup, social network analytic insights will become mainstream in decision making complementing existing financial data in the future. We are convinced that in 5-10 years, SNA will be a fundamental pillar and a crucial dimension in investment decision making, complementing financial and non-financial (such as Environmental, Social, and Governance – ESG) factors to better predict outcomes.

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Dr. Murat Ünal
M.B.A, LL.M. in Frankfurt / Germany

Murat graduated from the University of Adelaide/Australia with a B.Com degree. He holds an M.B.A degree from Kellogg/USA and WHU/Germany and its network programs at Tel Aviv Uni/Israel and Hong Kong Uni of Science and Technology/China SAR. Murat further has a LL.M. degree from the School of Law at Northwestern Uni in Chicago and a Doctorate in Business Administration from IE Business School (Madrid) specializing in network analysis/science. His research interest lies in narrow AI (particularly the area of machine learning, natural language processing, autonomous vehicles/robotics), Human Computer Interaction, Platform Technologies and above all Network Science which plays a crucial role in complex systems, and will be a core building block for future breakthroughs in research.

Murat founded SONEAN in 2013 with his team, building on its sister entity Funds@Work AG (F@W)`s experience since 2002 in over 250 international projects in the wealth, and asset management industry with more than two dozens of international awards received for its consulting & unique intelligence. SONEAN was designated as „innovative young company“ in 2015 by the German Ministry for Economics and Energy and became part of Germany`s Excellence in Big Data campaign rolled out globally in 2016. At the beginning of 2020 Murat joined SONEAN full time to develop its unique potential, and focus entirely on its Ecosystem Intelligence related vision.

In 2013 SONEAN also established the SNA Lab (www.snalab.com) which in the meantime has become the Network Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. In 2021, in its 9th year, numerous new and existing Lab members got together again to learn about the application of network science and narrow AI related areas (such as machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics) to organizational challenges, especially with regard to data driven decision making (moving away from just gut feeling). The Lab helps SONEAN in identifying future colleagues but also, and more importantly, develop a new generation of talents with a 360 degree, and interconnected view of the world.

Şekip Topçu
B. Sc., Dipl. Ing., M.B.A. in Frankfurt / Germany

Şekip Topçu holds a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from the Middle East Technical University of Ankara (METU).
After his bachelor study he worked for several years in Ankara and Istanbul in management positions in IT, but then decided to study further and moved to Vienna where he earned his master’s degree in Computer Science at the Vienna University of Technology, specialising in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Linguistics. After graduation he also studied for two more years as a PhD student in the field of Natural Language Modeling using Artificial Neural Networks. During and after his studies in Austria he worked as an IT consultant in different sectors ranging from banking to telecommunications. In 2000 Şekip moved to Hungary, where he worked at large, mission-critical projects at Siemens and Lufthansa Systems. At Siemens he was involved in a leading role in the development of a platform for mobile operators and at Lufthansa Systems he led the development of the check-in system used by Lufthansa and its affiliates. In 2008 Şekip moved to work for the global financial services company MSCI Barra to lead the development of a state-of-the-art application.

Şekip also pursued a part-time MBA programme with finance specialization at the Manchester Business School, which he finished in 2012. After spending a year in the UK, he moved to Germany to start in his view „the most interesting position of his career“ at SONEAN, where he is taking care of SNA related intelligence and technology.

Nishtha Jolly
B.A., Math. (Hons) in Frankfurt / Germany

Nishtha graduated from the University of New Delhi with a Bachelor Degree (Hons) in Mathematics. She is currently in her last semester of Master of Science (MSc) course in Finance from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

After her graduation, Nishtha joined her family business in New Delhi. She led the Product development Department for seven years. During her tenure, she could successfully establish new product ranges as well as new markets. The company doubled its revenues during her tenure. She later decided to move to Germany, to look out for new avenues.

She has been with SONEAN since 2015, and describes her role in the company as being most satisfying with the understanding of ecosystem intelligence and its strength in providing actionable intelligence to the board of top industry players and investors alike, enabling them to take sound decisions.

Debindra Dangol
Nepal – Researcher

A detailed overview will soon follow

Sara-Nel Defne
Edinburgh – Network Science & AI Lab Member

Sara has been with our Network Science & AI Lab since 2020. She is a graduate of Frankfurt International School, and studies for a Master’s degree at The University of Edinburgh. She has also previously studied abroad during summer programs such as at Trinity College (University of Melbourne), and participated successfully in programs such as AI Talents, being engaged in numerous social activities and clubs.