Member Profile: Karine Sarkissian

Karine co-founded Single Family Office, Tamar Capital, with her two brothers in 2016; now, they operate offices in Beirut, London, and San Francisco at CANOPY Jackson Square. As Head of the US office and Venture Capital Investments, she led the exploration of multiple, primarily impact-focused, initiatives across the firm’s VC investment portfolio, spanning various geographies and sectors. In 2020, Karine co-founded Le Studio with Sophie Durey, an in-house Venture Studio as a Service (VSaaS) model for enterprises.

In Journal, Karine shares the importance of design applications in solving problems.

Tell us how Tamar Capital and Le Studio complement one another.

Tamar Capital is value-driven and founder-focused and invests in various sectors across multiple geographies: the US, Europe, and Latin America. As a Family Office, we invest across different asset classes, including Real Estate (through a fund: Tamar Real Estate), Private Equity, Impact Investing, and Venture Capital.

I studied environmental design—which combines sustainability and design within the built environment—and Le Studio was born from this expertise and my work supporting our founders, investors, and portfolio companies with design-based resources.

Our VSaaS model offers actionable solutions via a curated curriculum and series of resources, including workshops, toolkits, a podcast, and a community. Le Studio’s approach combines theory and practice to support every part of an entrepreneur’s journey. One pillar is Design, from problem framing to product-market fit, including but not limited to branding, storytelling, and product development. Our second pillar, Impact, focuses on measuring and reporting social and environmental performance. The last pillar is Financial Advisory: we support our founders on when and how to fundraise.

What prompted you to establish Le Studio under Tamar Capital?

My brothers and I are very entrepreneurial and seek to be value-add investors. Initially, our support was ad hoc: I responded to many requests from founders to help with their pitches, brands, and business strategies; however, this wasn’t always efficient for all parties. I’d known Sophie before, an impact expert and close friend, and invited her to join our team. Together, we co-founded Le Studio to use our expertise as entrepreneurs and investors to bridge impact and design. We offer programming for founders and investors structured into sprints that lead to practical outcomes. We also work with corporate innovators and educational partners, bringing Silicon Valley innovative thinking to these groups.

How has Le Studio evolved since its inception?

Le Studio has become a hub that connects design, impact, and finance–an intersection we haven’t seen much before in this space. (We settled on the name “Le Studio” as Sophie and I speak to each other in French, and we also wanted something that rang well for the international crowd.) More recently, we’ve developed a complete workbook and worksheets and are building a digital platform so people can take our courses online and work with us directly if they need more. Anyone that’s taken our classes has access to Le Studio Community, where they can exchange ideas and experiences with each other. We host a podcast called Under the Hood by Le Studio, and we run panel sessions, like the panel we curated at CANOPY Jackson Square in June, which are opportunities to feature our experts and chances to learn.

Tell us about some exciting projects you’re currently working on.

As I mentioned, we’re excited about and focused on building Le Studio’s digital platform for online classes and content access. As investors, we’re main partners with Bay Padel, a premier padel and pickleball club in the Bay Area, which will open its first location soon. Stay tuned! We’ve invested in various companies, including  Therma, a cold storage monitoring company focused on saving energy and reducing food waste; Odys Aviation (formerly Craft Aerospace), a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft for regional mobility; and Zeit Medical, a biotech company producing a wearable that tracks oncoming strokes. In terms of impact, companies like this are making a difference.

Working across Tamar Capital and Le Studio, have you identified a consistent throughline indicator of long-term sustainability that transcends industries and country borders?

Sustainability is a double entendre here! Focusing on sustainability promotes social and environmental best practices, you ensure the company is profitable in the long run. Sustainability is a way of thinking—something inbuilt to your company, your core values, and the passion you embody as an entrepreneur. As founder-first investors, we look to invest in entrepreneurs who are intentional about their companies, even if they haven’t implemented impact tracking, monitoring, and reporting just yet. That’s where Le Studio comes in!

What are your future goals for Le Studio?

We aim to be thought leaders in the space and to promote impactful entrepreneurship. We understand a company’s lifecycle, and we can work with firms in many different stages, from inception to raising future rounds. Our biggest goal is to give teams something tangible to implement quickly and successfully. We aspire to become the recognized gold standard for purpose-driven founders.

How do you define success?

On the investment side, we prioritize companies that balance impact and profitability. Success for Le Studio means being the go-to resource for impactful innovators and growing our community worldwide. I know it sounds fluffy, but ultimately, the most critical component of success is to love what you do and to lead with kindness. We have ambitious goals for growth and legacy while maintaining values as individuals and within our internal culture.

How does your CANOPY membership support you in running your business?

I’ve had a long-lasting relationship with CANOPY Jackson Square, which is beautiful. I moved to SF in October 2018 and signed up for a membership a week later: initially, I had a flex desk, then signed up for a dedicated desk in the communal area before moving into a private office. We just moved to a larger private office, where our four-person US team is primarily based. We come in two or three days a week and often start work at 6 am to overlap with London and Beirut time zones. It can be a challenge, but the pandemic proved that remote work is possible, and we use tools like Slack and weekly huddles to stay connected; it also doesn’t hurt that I work with my brothers!

What advice would you give female entrepreneurs thinking about founding a business or running an early-stage company?

Lead with kindness but be firm and know your worth, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve.

Many entrepreneurs and founders struggle with how much to charge for their work and products, especially without experienced mentors. Do you have any tips for developing pricing?

I use Human-Centered Design as my approach: research, observe, and iterate! Here’s how I would price a project out: look at the competition, look at your offerings, price your time, price your worth. Do interviews, run surveys, and ask your users how much they would be willing to pay for your services. Adjust continuously and listen to your customers. Don’t be afraid to make iterative changes, and trust your gut.

Do you have a favorite podcast you’d recommend to anyone?

I have to shamelessly plug Le Studio’s podcast, Under The Hood, because it’s really fun, and the conversations are truly inspiring! Other than that, I love Ten Percent Happier: you can find any topic on that platform, and they welcome a wide range of guests who offer different perspectives and tips.

What are your favorite ways to spend your free time in the Bay Area?

Access to nature is super important to me. I spend all my free time outdoors surfing, climbing, trail running, and hiking. I do a lot of yoga and care about the ocean: I go diving and cold-water swimming in Aquatic Park, which has been a really great mental exercise.

Lastly, art is a huge part of my life—I freelance as an illustrator and graphic designer. I’ve painted a few murals around the Bay, including CANOPY Pacific Height’s wooden door during the pandemic.

In addition to co-founding Tamar Capital and Le Studio, Karine is co-lead on LebNet’s Women in Tech steering committee and a mentor for the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA).

Follow Karine’s work on Linkedin and Le Studio on Linkedin and Instagram.