By Henry Mortimer, Editor-at-Large
If your teenage bedroom serves as the office for your father’s small businesses, you either learn to embrace commerce or run from it. Fortunately for his many clients and collaborators, Steve Meltzer chose the former.
“As I was growing up, I worked in many of [my father’s] businesses and lived the life of an entrepreneur,” says Meltzer, a lawyer and partner in the D.C. office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.
As the son of a “lifelong, serial entrepreneur,” Meltzer says he handled a wide variety of tasks, from managing a cash register at a bowling alley, to delivering auto parts, to typing invoices and answering the phones. Meltzer considers this period to be the foundation for his career: “I certainly learned something about entrepreneurship, at least small business entrepreneurship.”
Desirous to become the first lawyer in the family, Meltzer earned a dual MBA and law degree from Harvard and picked up some new skills — such as strategy, management, and finance — that complemented what he had learned from his father.
Following a brief stint in the army after college, he joined the law firm that would later become Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, initially working in the military intelligence arena. He also had an affinity for technology and began pursuing clients in the emerging personal computer revolution.
“I did software licensing for people who were then called ‘beltway bandits,’ who were doing some government contracting and some commercial software implementation,” says Meltzer, whose corporate practice now focuses on information technology, life sciences, healthcare, defense and intelligence-related projects.
Clients in those early days included the company that created VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program for personal computers, as well as Quantum Computer Services, a major player in the formation of AOL. More recent clients include Baltimore-based startup Noxilizer Inc., which provides a high-tech, nitrogen dioxide-based alternative to traditional medical device sterilization methods, and several firms with international backgrounds, including Notable Solutions, started by immigrants from the Middle East.
“I am a huge believer in having America become the mecca for entrepreneurs from all around the world, says Meltzer, who acted as a coach for the Kauffman Foundation FastTrac Program for Technology & Biotechnology Entrepreneurs from 2010-15. “I would like to see us open our doors to entrepreneurs.”
Meltzer, who serves as a member of the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association and the Maryland Technology Council, credits his father’s enterprising influence as the key to his success
“I have focused on technologies that matter,” he says. “I want to do things that make a difference.”
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