SteelSky Ventures is an early stage venture capital fund based in New York with a focus on investing in innovative women’s health companies. Founding partners Maria Velissaris and Buffy Alegria bring an impressive mix of operating and investing experience as first-time fund managers. Maria is an entrepreneur who built her first startup at Wake Forest before being acquired by U-Haul. She parlayed that success into roles in consulting, branding, and later as a VP at the largest dermatology group in the Northeast. In her spare time, she began investing with Pipeline Angels, a group of angels creating capital for women and non-binary social entrepreneurs. It was there that Maria met Buffy, who had spent years in corporate finance at US Bank while angel investing and serving on the board of several healthcare companies.
Through angel investing together, Maria and Buffy realized they shared an interest in women’s health companies. Early investments in companies like 23andMe had given them early exposure to healthtech in general, but they wanted to do more; they were both astounded by the lack of capital and VCs focusing on women’s health in general—and by the only 2.3% of VC funds deployed to women-led companies overall, according to Crunchbase.
Given the size and purchasing power of the female population in the U.S., Maria and Buffy saw an opportunity to back companies and founders building in large markets that were being overlooked by most other venture capital funds. They started SteelSky with the idea of providing catalytic capital and institutional support through a robust partner network of other investors, operators, and corporate leaders in medicine and technology. Given their backgrounds as founders and operators, it was also important to Maria and Buffy take a more hands-on approach to post-deal support and focus on establishing deep, trusted relationships with founders.
Why we invested
We identify with entrepreneurs and fund managers who tackle large, overlooked problems. The data Maria and Buffy showed us about lack of funding for startups solving women’s health problems—especially when compared to the market opportunity these startups have. We were equally impressed with the diverse experience that Maria and Buffy bring to the table as operators, investors, and founders. It’s easy to see how their knowledge of and passion for the space will resonate with founders.