Maria Velissaris And $50M SteelSky Ventures Fund Move To Atlanta To Focus On Women’s Health

SteelSky Ventures, a venture capital firm with a $50-million fund launched by entrepreneur Maria Velissaris, has moved its headquarters from New York to Atlanta. 

SteelSky focuses on investing in innovative women’s healthcare startups. 

Velissaris started angel investing in women-led healthcare startups after she saw that the sector was being overlooked. “People don’t want to talk about (women’s health issues), but that’s where I thought there could really be an impact made,” Velissaris told The Business Journals. “We want to serve this broader market that has been overlooked for so long.”  

Velissaris’s passion for entrepreneurism emerged when she was a student at Wake Forest University. She and a friend started Wakeboxes (now Collegeboxes), a student storage and shipping service later purchased by U-Haul.

“I carefully curated the next several years of my career, working at different types of companies, developing a diverse set of skills that I knew I would need to build my next empire,” she told NYU Stern Business Magazine.

She later landed at management and information technology consulting firm Booz Allen for five years. She worked as an associate in systems engineering working on the US Air Force Transformational Satellite System (TSAT). Velissaris moved on to Kraft Foods as an associate brand manager, followed by a year at Siegel + Gale, the brand consultancy, and then to a global travel assignment for EMM Group as an international marketing consultant. While at EMM, she developed a corporate beauty outsourcing service called La Voila Beauty LLC. 

Ultimately, Velissaris turned to venture investing, founding SteelSky Ventures. 

SteelSky Ventures adds another venture capital firm to the Atlanta ecosystem, which has long been criticized for its lack of local capital. That trend seems to be changing, according to a report from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. Atlanta gained 17 new venture capital funds in 2021, totaling more than $1 billion in capital that needs to be invested. That breaks the city’s previous records for new funds, which was $905 million across 11 funds raised in 2019.  

With Atlanta’s expanding technology sector and the city’s solid network of healthcare facilities, Velissaris felt the move fit. She had traveled from her home in New York to visit her brother in Atlanta at the beginning of the pandemic. After continuously extending her stay, she connected with entrepreneurs and other investors in Atlanta.  

SteelSky Ventures invests primarily in seed and Series A rounds. Among the fund’s investors are family offices, global banking institutions, and strategic healthcare investors, The Business Journals reported. Atlanta Tech Village startup Motivo, which assists pre-licensed therapists with completing their supervision requirements online, is one of SteelSky’s investments. 

So far, the fund has invested in 14 companies worldwide. 

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Photo: Maria Velissaris, partner at SteelSky Ventures (SteelSky Ventures)

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