News Articles Online

Empowering Angels: Manny Ratafia

Corporate Angels

The Chamber’s Walk

Participate Please

Donate Please

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the November 29, 2000 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Scholarship Online: Ira Fuchs

In 1996 Ira Fuchs, then Princeton University’s

vice president for computing and information technology, thought using

the Internet in higher education would more likely improve the quality

of education rather than reduce its cost. Now Fuchs has relinquished

his university post to be vice president for information technology

at the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and he is working on Internet-based

projects that do dramatically improve the quality of pedagogy.

At a free technology lecture at the Princeton Public Library on

Tuesday,

December 5, at 6:30 p.m., Fuchs will discuss some of the newest, most

intriguing resources for scholars. Call 609-924-9529 for information.

As a teenager in Forest Hills, Queens, Fuchs was a ham radio operator.

His mother owned and operated women’s clothing stores, and his late

father was a wholesale diamond dealer. He enrolled at Columbia

University

when he was 16 and did systems programming even as an undergraduate.

At 24, with a master’s degree, he directed the computer facility at

the City University of New York. There he co-founded BITNET, a tool

for liberal arts scholars to exchange messages that prepared the

ground

for today’s flourishing Internet E-mail system.

As Princeton University’s computer czar, recruited by then president

William Bowen, Fuchs opened the sluices of fast Internet connections

to every dorm. Now at the Manhattan-based foundation, which also has

an office on Alexander Street in Princeton, Fuchs oversees a series

of demonstration projects in the cost effective applications of

technology

to teaching large numbers of students in very basic subjects.

Chief among these is an electronic archive of scholarly journals,

known as Jstor, which make scholarly journals accessible on the web

— able to be searched and printed out at super-high resolutions.

Another Mellon project is photographing and digitizing art found in

caves in Dun Huang China, an almost inaccessible oasis on the edge

of the Gobi Desert. This artwork offers details of life in China over

a 1,000-year period that ended in the 14th century.

A third example that Fuchs will show in his library talk is the online

course for alumni that has been launched by Princeton University.

The "Walk in Rome" web course, devised by faculty member

John

Pinto, is a good example of what a high quality multimedia seminar

can be, says Fuchs. "It has the feel of a well-done PBS show,

and it uses a CD for low speed connection but is also online."

But Jstor is the Mellon Foundation’s pride-and-joy project. It is

now a not-for-profit organization headed by Kevin Guthrie, a

civil engineering major and varsity football player at Princeton

University,

Class of 1984 (U.S. 1, November 27, 1996). Based in New York City,

Jstor also has offices in Princeton and Ann Arbor.

"By scanning and doing OCR (optical character reading) we have

recreated one of the largest libraries of its kind," says Fuchs.

"You can completely search on the full text in any of the

journals;

you can pull up the page images and print them." In 1996 Jstor

had taken 15 journals that go back to the last century and put them

on the web. Now it has put up more than 120 journal titles, amounting

to 6 million pages. The expansion of Jstor has attracted more than

800 subscribing institutions in over 30 countries. Soon it will be

available in public libraries.

"What we have learned is, that what seems like a simple thing

to do, turns out to be not so simple," says Fuchs. "We have

learned about the whole process of turning a paper volume into a

usable

searchable accurate database."

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News Articles Online

While programs like Jstor bring scholarly journals

closer

to their audience, the public libraries are finding news for their

patrons to access back articles from daily newspapers. Now cardholders

at almost all the libraries in New Jersey can access and print

full-length

newspaper articles from four newspapers — the New York Times,

Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Bergen Record —

from their home computers. A three-year contract with the Gale Group

to add this service went into effect on November 1 for libraries in

Mercer and Middlesex counties.

The New York Times offers several months of archived articles, and

access dates back four years for the Philadelphia, Washington, and

Bergen newspapers. If you were going directly to the newspaper’s

websites,

you would be able to search the archives for free but would be charged

for the full text download.

Use a library card number to log onto these websites to get the

newspaper

articles:

Mercer County Library: West Windsor, Lawrence,

Hightstown,

etc. (www.mcl.org).

Plainsboro Free Public Library, South Brunswick Public

Library,

or any library in Middlesex County, www.lmxac.org.

East Brunswick Public Library, www.ebpl.org.

Princeton Public Library, www.princetonlibrary.org

will have the four-newspaper archive in the near future.

Top Of Page
Empowering Angels: Manny Ratafia

Archangels are a new breed," says Daniel Conley

of Silicon Garden Angels Plus Investors (www.oncallcfo.com).

"Archangels

bring enough capital to the table to do good, big work," says

Conley, "but they also add value with their wise technical

counsel.

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

609-279-0010 (www.njen.com).

Bagatelle made his reputation as a "workout" manager, someone

who takes over direct management of companies that are having

difficulties

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

Rutgers.

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

one."

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

15, 2000).

Manny Ratafia led the angel round of investment for SealTech, an

incubator

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

shuffled

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: manny@commtechsoftware.com).

Growing

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

SealTech.

Based in Parsippany, this company is making environmentally friendly

plastic film adhesives that do not expose workers to solvents.

"Right

now just one other company makes this kind of thing and it was founded

by Tim Peck, who now runs SealTech," says Ratafia. "The

downside

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

have opportunities."

At the NJEN meeting he will discuss his experiences at SealTech.

"Angel

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

level."

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.

His tips:

Do the negotiating yourself. "They initially wanted

to talk only through my lawyer as opposed to me directly," says

Ratafia. "That is more difficult, less efficient, and more

expensive.

Angels who are putting in $50,000 — no way they can justify

spending

$10,000 on lawyers. As an entrepreneur I wrote my own contracts,

rarely

used lawyers to help me, and if I did they would come in at the very

last stage."

Get the support of the other angels. "In addition

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."

Negotiate a little at a time and you are much more likely

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."

Don’t take for granted that things can’t be done. "You

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

creative."

Go for the win/win solution. "All of the investors

in SealTech feel we have a really good deal and a really good

company,"

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

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Corporate Angels

Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey honored Steven

Rosenthal,

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

largest PEO.

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.

Harriet Bryan and Ted Vial received the fifth annual

Leslie "Bud" Vivian Award for Community Service at the

community

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

Village,

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

Community

Housing and urged early efforts to end racial discrimination in

Princeton’s

housing.

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The Chamber’s Walk

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

distributed

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.

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Participate Please

New Jersey high school seniors can win Future

Technologists

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

$15,000.

These awards have the purpose of encouraging students to stay in New

Jersey and to expose them to technical careers. One award is for

web-based

information technology and another for life sciences and

bioinformatics.

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

deadline

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.

Top Of Page
Donate Please

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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