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These articles were prepared for the November 29, 2000 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Empowering Angels: Manny Ratafia
Archangels are a new breed," says Daniel Conley
of Silicon Garden Angels Plus Investors (www.oncallcfo.com).
bring enough capital to the table to do good, big work," says
Conley, "but they also add value with their wise technical
Other investors consider this `the smart money.’"
Two from this "new breed" of investor, Warren Bagatelle
of Loeb Partners and Manny Ratafia, an individual investor,
share the program at the New Jersey Entrepreneurial Network meeting
on Wednesday, December 6, at noon at the Doral Forrestal. The title:
"Archangels: When $1 Million Is Not Enough." Cost: $45. Call
Bagatelle made his reputation as a "workout" manager, someone
who takes over direct management of companies that are having
and therefore has insight on how to analyze management and product.
The son of a professional photographer, he majored in economics at
Union College in Schenectady, Class of 1960, and has an MBA from
He spent seven years with Arthur Andersen and 12 years doing workouts
for industrial companies in Rochester, New York. For this he was hired
by large investors, such as GE Capital, to be the operating officer.
"I did five or six," he says proudly, "and never lost
Bagatelle left line management for Wall Street in 1981 and was CEO
of a small New York Stock Exchange member firm, and then became a
managing director of the venerable Loeb Partners, nearly 100 years
old. Personally, he has about three dozen investments, and the firm
has 10 times that number. For his personal investments, Bagatelle
says he generally chips in $50,000 to $100,000, along with one or
two of his partners, to a variety of small companies (U.S. 1, March
Manny Ratafia led the angel round of investment for SealTech, an
company out of Stevens Institute (www.sealtech.com). "Because
it had a value-added angel — Manny Ratafia — contributing
a significant six figure amount, all the other cards in the deck
together," says Conley. "Other investors followed the `smart
money,’ resulting in more than $1 million of equity investment and
over $5 million of capital."
Ratafia, an individual equity investor in startup companies, is based
in Woodbridge, Connecticut (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
up in New York on the Lower East Side and in Brighton Beach, he comes
from a long line of entrepreneurs and always knew he wanted to be
one. His Polish grandfather owned apartment buildings, a bus service,
and a shoe factory, and his cousins currently have businesses.
An alumnus of Cooper Union, Class of 1971, Ratafia has two master’s
degrees in engineering from MIT, one from Harvard, and an MBA from
Dartmouth. He had a consulting firm, Technology Management Group,
that provided consulting and market research on biotech and medical
products, and he also has a software firm, Commtech.
Always a voracious reader and researcher, Ratafia created a niche
for himself by working around the clock to create special industry
reports that beat the competition by six months. Pharmaceutical firms
and venture capitalists paid $2,000 and $3,000 for three 1986 reports
— on a new cancer treatment, on the implications of AIDS research,
and on the impact of biotech on veterinary medicine. "There was
a great need for information on biotechnology in the mid ’80s, and
it wasn’t being fulfilled," he says.
From what he earned with these reports, he invested $500,000 in
Based in Parsippany, this company is making environmentally friendly
plastic film adhesives that do not expose workers to solvents.
now just one other company makes this kind of thing and it was founded
by Tim Peck, who now runs SealTech," says Ratafia. "The
is very low, because we already have customers waiting for product.
It has a tiny sliver of the market in each area where we think we
At the NJEN meeting he will discuss his experiences at SealTech.
investors and entrepreneurs don’t have enough information," he
says. "It’s difficult to get quality information. Everyone has
their own ax to grind, which introduces biases into their advice.
I will tell how to try to make the playing field a little more
He will also tell how a small investor can negotiate better deals.
"Venture capitalists would like to perpetuate the myth that they
hold all the cards and have all the power," says Ratafia. "At
almost every meeting I have gone to, they keep repeating that there
are so many deals out there, that whatever terms they want to set,
everybody else should go along with. That is not an accurate portrayal
of their relative power," he says, "because once they have
selected something they are interested in, they are not going to walk
away from it that quickly. The VCs are under great pressure to invest
the funds and invest them well, and if they have a good deal they
are not going to walk away from it because someone wants to change
something here and there."
Ratafia is a skilled negotiator and, in fact, negotiation classes
with Leonard Greenhaulgh at Dartmouth were among his favorites. As
the angel with the largest investment in SealTech he successfully
bargained with the lead investor (an institution) to make the deal
better for himself and the other angels. "We just insisted on
what was appropriate," he says, "and got them to change huge
numbers of things." Various agreements had been set up so that
larger institutions were favored in subtle ways, such as how those
with a certain percentage of ownership can make certain decisions.
to talk only through my lawyer as opposed to me directly," says
Ratafia. "That is more difficult, less efficient, and more
Angels who are putting in $50,000 — no way they can justify
$10,000 on lawyers. As an entrepreneur I wrote my own contracts,
used lawyers to help me, and if I did they would come in at the very
to representing my own $500,000 investment, I also represented the
others and had quite a bit of leverage." If smaller investors
assert themselves, he says, it is "not that difficult" to
make the agreements fairer. "Even someone putting in as little
as $25,000, if they can represent all of the angel class, they can
have quite a bit of clout."
to get what you want than if you present one long list. "I said
that here is something I had a little bit of a problem with, and once
they have agreed to one list of terms, each additional term is just
one more little item."
never know until you try. As an entrepreneur I did lots of things
that the rule books say you can’t do. It helps you stand out. As an
angel, I have an unusual style of negotiation, tough and
in SealTech feel we have a really good deal and a really good
says Ratafia. "It is very important to create the feeling that,
in the end, we are all on the same side and are working together."
— Barbara Fox
Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey honored Steven
co-CEO of Epix, as Man of the Year. Deborah C. Brittain,
president of the Association of Junior Leagues International, received
Woman of the Year award. Epix is the Woodbridge-based professional
employer organization (PEO) that Rosenthal founded less than 10 years
ago. It now has over 50,000 worksite employers and is the nation’s
The state headquarters of the social service organization is in New
Brunswick. The annual dinner, at which Rosenthal was honored, raised
more than $107,000 — a record amount.
Leslie "Bud" Vivian Award for Community Service at the
service on Thanksgiving Day in the Princeton University Chapel. The
award comes with $2,000 to be donated to a nonprofit organization
of the recipients’ choice.
Bryan was instrumental in the development of Princeton Community
Elm Court, and Griggs Farm, and has also been honored with a U.S.
1 Helping Hands award. Vial was the first president of Princeton
Housing and urged early efforts to end racial discrimination in
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce solicits sponsorships
for the 64th annual "walk" to Washington, set for Thursday,
February 1. The walking is done on a special Amtrak train that takes
business people and politicos to the nation’s capital. So many people
want to go that this year the chamber will send two trains — one
bustling, the second one more quiet. The Capitol Steps, a troupe of
Congressional staffers-turned comedians, will entertain at a dinner
at the Marriott Wardman Park. In previous years, the newly elected
president has consented to speak at the dinner.
Advertisements in an "attendance book," which is placed on
every train seat, start at $250 for a quarter page, and similar ads
are available fro the "Congressional Directory" to be
at the dinner. Call Kevin Friedlander at 609-989-7888. Tickets
for the train ride, reception, and dinner cost up to $565 for those
who are not chamber members.
New Jersey high school seniors can win Future
Awards granted by the New Jersey Technology Council and sponsored
by Vega Consulting Solutions in Parsippany, u.1 net of
Marlton, Dathil in Trenton, and NJTechNews, the house
organ of NJTC. Other sponsorships are available at from $2,500 to
These awards have the purpose of encouraging students to stay in New
Jersey and to expose them to technical careers. One award is for
information technology and another for life sciences and
Student applicants should be planning to attend a New Jersey college
or university and to major in a high-tech subject. They may enter
as individuals or as a team of two or three from the same high school,
and they must do a project that shows skills in critical thinking,
leadership, communications, presentation, and collaboration. The
for submitting the project is March 30, 2001. Those who make the first
cut will be given a final interview on May 23.
Bob Carullo (of the Lakehurst Naval Air Station) and Ray Ingram
(of Dathil) co-chair the NJTC’s technology workforce committee, which
developed the scholarship program, along with the Technology Educators
Association of New Jersey and a design team lead by Ingram and NJTC’s
Sara Lee Pindar. Call Pindar at 856-787-9700.
Dave Collins, one of the DJs for the WNJO morning
show, is camping out in the parking lot of Lawrence Toyota on
Route 1 South and will stay there until the 18-wheeler trailer from
Princeton Moving and Storage is filled with canned goods. The
food will be donated to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and
Second Harvest in Hillside New Jersey. Live updates will be aired
on 94.5, the oldies station. Supporting this "WNJO’s Camping for
Cans" effort is Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar.
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