In the age of big data, the revolution will come from well-connected little data and how we interpret these connections. Therefore, network mapping and analysis have become a crucial area of focus as analysts work to predict the future. Large corporations such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle are already on the scene. But the revolution has also excited startup companies like Quid, Palantir, Activate Networks and Recorded Future, which read big data for their customers. These startups are usually B2B and provide network intelligence services to private enterprises or governments.
Until now, most of the startups in network mapping and analysis have been based in the U.S. But from the Middle East and North Africa region and Turkey, Istanbul- and New York-based artist and entrepreneur Burak Arikan set up Graph Commons, a platform dedicated to providing “network intelligence” for everyone. For this, he recently won the Most Innovative Social Graph award in San Francisco.
The beta version was launched in March 2011 and is a collaborative “network mapping” platform on which to create, share, navigate and learn about relationships among people, organizations or concepts. Since his studies at the MIT Media Lab, where he worked with John Maeda, Burak has been running network mapping analysis workshops for NGOs and companies in numerous countries to improve network literacy.
We talked to Burak about his entrepreneurial story and the challenges he faces running a global project from an emerging market, as well as the investor profile he is looking for. “In contrast with its competitors, Graph Commons is a platform that is open to public and anybody can use. Customers of companies such as Quid and Palantir are corporations, whereas Graph Commons is open to public. Our audiences are different,” said Burak when asked about how he positioned his start-up.
Competing globally is challenging when operating from a local market. To be a global player, Burak agrees that the investor profile is critical. “Investors in emerging markets have short-term interest. We need to find global investors,” he says.