Vision

Bridging the worlds of innovative businesses and resources for a better tomorrow.

Mission Statement

  • To be the trusted partner for angel investors in vetting potentially transformative companies that match their operational risk profile, preferences and social missions.
  • To enable innovators to better operationalize their vision and help their venture reach or exceed its potential.
  • To be the engine that like-minded game changers can seek excellence from each other.

Our Story

Although most of our team hail from the Wharton alumi, the meeting of the minds was actually a confluence of many paths that lead to the current composition of the team.

In the recent past, both Joon Shin and Chris Benjamin were firmly in the middle of an early stage venture, IPNETZONE, that later got acquired by a larger telecommunications firm, UNSi. During Joon’s role as IPNETZONE’s CEO, he volunteered to aid in launching the Alumni Business Showcase (ABS) under the Wharton Club of New York, which was lead by Steven Shindler at the time. Not long after, the ABS program grew into what we now know as the Wharton Angel Network (WAN).

Due to the extraordinary amount of time, money, and effort it would take develop a full-blown, online destination for the startup world and initiate our consulting services, we on-boarded Sean Grennan, Steven Dong, and Sam Riggs, and launched the Protagonist Group to help us continue our growth and start developing AngelRoot.

Other members of WAN wanted to continue the sharing of best practices in the startup world to all of University of Pennsylvania alumni, versus just Wharton alumni alone, and called themselves Locust Walk Angels.

The Protagonists

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Chris Benjamin

Digital Mason
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Bio:
Chris Benjamin is a web development and design veteran of 17 years. Experienced in every aspect of Internet development including servers and networking, mobile development, databases, e-commerce, customer service and fulfillment, and too many programming languages to mention. Having owned and operated a NYC-based web studio, Chris has worked with such clients as NBC Universal, Universal Music Group, Island Records, Def Jam Recordings, Bluenote Records, New Line Cinemas, Comedy Central, and Ubisoft.
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Steve Dong

The Initiator
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Bio:
Steve Dong graduated from Wharton in 2012 with a concentration in OPIM and Marketing. During his second year at Wharton, he co-founded the company Osus, a material science startup that developed a technology to increase the specific gravity of synthetic fibers for the purpose of increasing weight. As an entrepreneur, he is always interested in learning about new technologies and opportunities.
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Sean Grennan

The Cadence
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Bio:
Sean Grennan is finance and treasury executive with experience ranging from bulge bracket investment banks to startup companies. Proven track record of rigorous financial, investment, and business analysis; execution of financial transactions; collaboration with senior executives across corporate functions to structure transactions more effectively; and design/implementation of financial functions and strategic projects.
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Sam Riggs

Digital Mason
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Bio:
Sam Riggs is a security engineer and researcher at heart, having managed campus computer labs, fixing/securing friends' computers for fun, and coding DARPA-funded and academic research projects. When not poring over lines of code, working on IT-related projects, or reading security conference papers, Sam is also known to be an avid photographer, pushing himself to learn more about body language, social engineering, and behavioral biases.
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Joon Shin

The Shapeshifter
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Bio:
Joon Shin drives strategy and tactics; is battle-hardened from Corporate 500 and startups; culls insights from businesses and technologies; shapes aesthetic designs from arts and media; creates value across several industries and roles, drawn from a wide breadth and depth of experience; and is not afraid to ask the hard questions. Due to his versatility and lack of enough time in a given day, he consumes copious amounts of caffeinated beverages and is currently researching ways to bend the spacetime continuum to his advantage.
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Steve Shindler

The Evangelist
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Bio:
I'm Steve Shindler, Wharton ‘76. After school I worked in the photo industry. In the 80s I helped start an ad agency which we grew and sold to Grey. In the 90s, I founded, built and then sold a consumer products company (actually 2 of them) and gave birth to an airline. It was a pretty busy decade. Give or take, for the past 15 years I've invested in, coached and help run a number of start-ups. We took one to NASDQ. A few years ago I helped create the Wharton Angel Network. I have a son, Michael, who is a Wharton student and I continue to love taking pictures.