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Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Company, is one of Silicon Valley’s rising entrepreneurs hoping to shake up the perception of the technology hub. Walker grew up poor in the projects of Southside Jamaica, Queens in New York City, using his tough experiences to fuel his current passions.

At the age of three, Walker’s father was killed and his mother was forced to take three jobs to keep the family afloat. But some good fortune was ahead for Walker after he attended boarding school, which shifted his world view and his ambitions. He attended SUNY Stonybrook, earning his bachelor’s in economics and was the class valedictorian. Walker then entered Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and earned a MBA.

Walker worked as an oil trader on Wall Street but soon grew tired of it. He took his talents west to Silicon Valley and worked for a variety of start-up tech companies. Walker became a recognized name in tech circles after working with Foursquare, the location-based app service, after becoming its director of business development before leaving in 2012.

Aware of the extreme lack of racial and gender diversity in Silicon Valley, Walker began crafting the early seeds for his company. Walker & Company emerged as Walker recognized the need for beauty products for people of color. The company’s flagship product, Bevel, is shaving products and accessories for people with coarse or curly hair. Walker’s persistence has paid off as his products are now available for retail nationwide.

Last year, Walker was able to secure rounds of funding from a series of investment groups, including contributions from NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Golden State Warriors player and the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, Andre Igoudala. Rap artist Nasir “Nas” Jones, also a Queens native, has become the face of Bevel in recent ads.

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