Ozan Sonmez was the Founding Managing Director of Growth Circuit Accelerator Programs in San Franciscofor the last 3 years. Growth Circuit Accelerators are founded by Growth Circuit VC, a seed stage investor based in Turkey and US. Ozan invested in 19 startupsthat have global ambitions & products to focus on launchingin Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area through exclusive partnerships with UC Berkeley, Draper University,and others. Ozan is an experienced startup mentor, accelerator managerand angel investor. He is a speaker, trainer, mentor, and judgefor international competitions in San Francisco, Turkey, Middle East & Europe.
He has led the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s3Startup Acceleratorsfor 3 years. He is the founding director of the first Impact Funding included Startup Accelerator in Saudi Arabiafor the Ministry of Labor and Human Resource Development Funds’9/10ths Accelerator. He worked with the first Impact Investor Group built byAngel Wings Ventures from the Netherlands. His previous professional background also includes finance and reporting functions in companies like Deloitte, Laureate Inc.(the largest private university network in US).
He is a contributing author of the Turkey and MENA Chapter on Masters of Corporate Venture Capital.
Ozan Sonmez is an experienced startup mentor and accelerator manager. Since 2008, he had been an expert, mentor,and judge in regional & global programs such as:Global Startup Battle (TechStarsInitiative), European based Startup BootcampAccelerator,Enpact.org (based in Germany), MIT EF Pan ArabCompetition, Startup Istanbul & Startup Turkey, Hult Social Business Competition, Arab Mobile App Challenge, Wamda MixN Mentor, Intel Business Challenge MENA, Startup MENA, MIT GISTand UC Berkeley’s Global Social Ventures Competition. He helped, advised and mentored startups from various accelerators &programs globally. He is known to have a brutally honest but constructive style in coaching Startup Co-founders; which gave him the nick name ‘Shoulder to Cry On’.
His international accomplishments, network and passion for building startups recently movedhim to San Francisco/Silicon Valley as the CEO of the Growth Circuit Startup Accelerators and be the Director of the Growth Circuit Micro VC. Growth Circuit is an International a public private partnershipconsortiumled by the largest Technology Park of Turkey ODTU.He is currently based in San Francisco, bridging the cultural and startup mindsetgap between emerging marketsand Silicon Valley.He also serves in the UBIGlobal2017/18 Research Advisory Board (RAB), athoughtleaderin performance analysis of businessincubation around the World.
He was previously leading the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s3Startup Accelerators. He is the founding director and designer of the first Seed-Grant Fund enabled Startup Accelerator in Saudi Arabiafor the Ministry of Labor and Human Resource Development Funds9/10ths Accelerator.He has co-managed the first cohort from which 6 startups graduated and got various amounts of funding.His professional background includes companies like Deloitte, Laureate Inc. (the largest private university network in US)and Angel Wings Ventures based in the Netherlands; where he worked as a financial professional and impact investor.
Ozan has earned his MBA Degree with athesis on “University Models”, in which he studied the 3rdGeneration Universities formation principles and built a financial model for the new generation university. He was the Finance Manager for a 100m$ Revenue generating Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey, that was acquired by a US Based University NetworkLaureate Education, Inc. quoted in NASDAQ Stock Exchange (NASDAQ:LAUR). Previous to acquisition, he was part of the team that led negotiations with International Finance Corporations Development Arm to secure a 10m$ expansion planof. He was the Chief Senior Auditor of Bilgi University from 2002-2004 during his tenure in Deloitte.
He is a regular Master of Ceremonies, guest lecturer, advisor to universities andentrepreneurship centers speaking about startups, innovation, venture & angel investing. In the last 3 years alone, he was a speaker, instructor and a panelist in Startup Hub Astana, Kazakhstan; National Business Incubation Conference in Chicago; Etohum San Francisco; Islamic DevelopmentBank Annual Conference in Jakarta/Indonesia; Grow My Business Competition in Beirut/Lebanon; Intellectual Property Conferences in Malaysia and Turkey; MENA Angel Investors Summit in Manama/Bahrain, Step Conference in Dubai/UAE; Arabnet in Riyadh/Saudi Arabia; Al Munawara Entrepreneurship Week in Medina/Saudi Arabia; Annual Incubation Conference by KACST in Riyadh/Saudi Arabia.
He was a regional lead instructor in Middle East forAngel Labs (based in San Francisco) where he has held training sessions for Angel Investors in different countries in Middle East and Far East. He has contributed to the Turkey and MENA Chapter in the definitive book on Global Corporate Venture Capital: Masters of Corporate Venture Capital: Collective Wisdom from 50 VCs Best Practices for Corporate Venturing How to Access Startup Innovation & How to Get Funded.
He was nominated & participated to the US State Department International Leaders Program in 2013.