As the founder and CEO of Walker & Company, a “consumer-centric” health and beauty products company, Tristan Walker successfully juggles countless responsibilities. Whether it’s heading up the roll out of its flagship Bevel brand, or designing and testing products and services specifically tailored to the needs of people of color, Walker is rarely ever not busy.
Before starting Walker & Company, Tristan spent time as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz and also as the Director of Business Development for popular mobile app Foursquare, where he oversaw strategic partnerships and monetization. He’s counted the likes of MTV, Starbucks, American Express, The New York Times, and CNN as clients. Walker has also been named to some prestigious media lists including Black Enterprise’s 40 Next, The Hollywood Reporter’s Digital Power , and Ebony Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful People.
Rolling out recently caught up with Walker to discuss his Walker & Company, the Bevel brand, and his work in keeping minorities in play with technology.
What was the inspiration in starting Walker & Co.?
I started Walker & Company because I felt personal care manufacturers and traditional retailers are neither building brands nor merchandising experiences that cater to the uniquely differentiated needs of black, latino and asian consumers — three of America’s fastest growing and most culturally influential demographic groups. We can do better. These customers deserve better.
Tell us about Bevel.
Bevel is the first and only end to end shaving system designed specifically for men and women with coarse, curly hair. Our system is clinically proven to reduce razor bumps and skin irritation by up to 50 percent within four weeks and prevent any future occurrences. We’re very excited about the pick up and positive feedback from customers. We’re solving an important issue that roughly 80 percent of black consumers have and 30 percent of non-black consumers have.
How big is it to have someone like Nas jump aboard with the Bevel brand?
Nas is culture, and I think it resonates. He is a part of the community that we’re building products for and he sees the vision so clearly. He’s said publicly that “the experience Bevel gives you is one I’ve been envisioning for us all for a lifetime.” We couldn’t be happier about that.
Why did you feel it was important to create CODE2040?
CODE2040 is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways to educational, professional, and entrepreneurial success in technology for underrepresented minorities with a specific focus on Blacks and Latino/as. CODE2040 looks to close the achievement, skills, and wealth gaps in the United States. Our goal is to ensure that by the year 2040—when the US will be majority-minority—Blacks and Latinos are proportionally represented in America’s innovation economy as technologists, investors, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs. We need a seat at the table.
How do you use social media to your advantage?
I love communicating directly with customers, not only about Bevel and Walker & Company but also about things pertaining to pop culture, technology, current events etc. Authenticity also shines through with social media, which is great.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud?
My greatest accomplishment has been my ability to recruit and retain colleagues who I believe to be best in class at what they do. I’m inspired by their work every single day and I couldn’t be more excited to build a lasting business with them. I’m also proud of the diversity of the team. Majority women, majority minority and they’re all fantastic leaders. I couldn’t be happier that our team makeup is reflective of what America is to become!
Who inspires you?
Andrew Carnegie. He truly believed that the noblest possible use of wealth was to give much of it away to improve society. A true hero.
Any favorite affirmations?
You don’t get what you don’t ask for.
What do you do to unwind?
I spend as much time with my wife (and now newborn son, Avery) outside of work as possible. Our guilty pleasure is watching reality TV!
What’s the last great book you read?
Race Against the Machine by Erik Brynjolfsson
Do you have a golden rule you rely on in your business dealings?
Do as you say, say as you do. Be consistent in your relationships and interactions
Any advice or words of wisdom for young business professionals?
The trials you go through as an entrepreneur and the blessings you receive are the same things. Those trials are simply lessons for entrepreneurs to learn from and we should all be thankful we can be afforded the opportunity to go through those to be even stronger leaders.
What’s next for Tristan Walker?
Raising my newborn son, Avery, in the best way I can. I’m so excited to be a father and I’ll do everything in my power to be the best father I can be for him. As far as Walker & Company, we’ll keep building. We have a fairly ambitious road map and you’ll be hearing from us very soon. New products for Bevel and also new brands for Walker & Company. We couldn’t be more excited about them. Stay tuned!