Charles Ota Heller’s career has consisted of six phases: engineer, educator, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, management consultant, and writer. Today, he is a full-time writer, the author of Prague: My Long Journey Home (2011) and Name-Droppings:Close Encounters with the Famous and Near-Famous(2013). His business autobiography, Ready, Fire, Aim! An Immigrant’s Tales of Entrepreneurial Terror was released by the WriteLife imprint of Boutique of Quality Books Publications on June 1, 2017.
Until 2006, Charlie was Director and Investment Chair of Athlone Global Security, an international venture capital firm investing in early-stage companies in the homeland security sector. From 2000 to 2003, he was General Partner of Gabriel Venture Partners, an early-stage, bi-coastal, venture capital fund with $260M under management. He has been very active in the Mid-Atlantic business community for many years as a successful entrepreneur, investor, board member, and mentor to many of the region’s entrepreneurial companies. He was President of the Baltimore-Washington Venture Group, an angel investor network. Until 2000, he was Director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, where he built one of the nation’s top-ranked entrepreneurship centers.
In 1969, he co-founded CADCOM, Inc., a pioneer CAD/CAM software company; he was its President and CEO. In 1979, CADCOM was acquired by ManTech International Corporation, and Charlie became Vice President for Corporate Development of the parent firm. In 1983, he led a management buy-out of a segment of ManTech’s business which became InterCAD Corporation. He was President and CEO of InterCAD until he sold his interest in the company. Dr. Heller received BS and MS degrees from Oklahoma State University and a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America — all in engineering. Early in his career, he was an engineer at Douglas Aircraft Company and Bell Telephone Laboratories. He lectured at UCLA and later became the youngest tenured faculty member in the history of the U.S. Naval Academy.He is an internationally recognized lecturer on entrepreneurship, venture capital and corporate venturing, and he was a freelance writer and columnist for more than 20 years. He was named Maryland “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young/INC. magazine/Merrill Lynch, and was named by digitalsouth magazine one of “The 50 Most Influential People in Southern Technology.” In 1999, the University of Maryland named him the first-ever Professor of Practice in the University’s history. In 2000, he was awarded the Lohmann Medal by Oklahoma State University and in 2015, he was elected to the school’s Hall of Fame. In 2002, he received the Alumni Achievement Award from The Catholic University of America. In 1998, he was named one of “Computer Graphics Pioneers.” Today, he serves on the boards of Walden University (chair of finance committee), NewSchool of Architecture and Design (chair of finance committee), and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (chair of mission delivery committee). He is a dual citizen of the US and the Czech Republic, his native country, and is fluent in Czech.
Heller is married, has one son and three grandchildren, and resides in Annapolis, Maryland, with his wife Susan. He played Division-I college basketball, as well as club soccer and volleyball; today, he is an avid golfer, skier, boater, and hiker. For 30 years, he and his family raced sailboats on the Chesapeake Bay and offshore. He is a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club, CEO Club, Maryland Writers’ Association, Authors Guild, Rotary Club of Annapolis (Paul Harris Fellow), and Naval Academy Golf Association.
He is currently working on his fourth book, a “coming-to-America” memoir, Cowboy from Prague.