Karl Handelsman Bio Picture


Founder & Managing Partner, Codon Capital

Karl D. Handelsman is the founder and Managing Partner, Codon Capital, and a key contributor and builder in the US biotech innovation ecosystem. Through his network and leadership, he drives Codon Capital to intensely focus on the best biotech targets for investments. The key criteria are the team, the technology, and the investment syndicate. Karl is looking for what he calls “an unfair technology advantage, a team uniquely qualified around that technology opportunity, and multiple routes to success.” Without knowing the technology and the team, he notes, the what if should look "impossible" to the outside world.

The key: find something disruptive, and be confident that technical success will generate a great return on invested capital, and as importantly, make the stock options valuable for those doing the work. Repeat entrepreneurs who can build even bolder startups are the limiting resource, and Karl considers it a privilege to work with them as an investor.

Karl's disciplined approach includes coaching at various incubators and teaching healthcare entrepreneurs, e.g., NSF I-Corps Biotech at the National institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Stanford, UCSF, and Imperial College London. He was a personal sponsor of SynBioBeta 1.0, and consulting advisor for Stanford SPARK, University of California Catalyst program, and the California Life Sciences Institute FAST program. He is a member of Life Science Angels. Karl has developed this process to build a better VC, and to support better entrepreneurship in biotech.

Karl received advanced degrees in business from MIT Sloan School of Business (MBA) and in science from Harvard Medical School (MS/Genetics). He has an undergraduate degree from Boston University (Trustee Scholar) in Biology. Prior to venture investing, he worked in Business Development (Tularik and Millenium). In May 2013, he founded Codon Capital after 14 years as a managing director at a major venture fund.