Most African-American men have to shave. And when they do, they might have Tristan Walker to thank. The financial trader turned entrepreneur is the founder of Bevel, which hopes to solve the irritation and razor bump problem that plagues many African-American shavers.
Walker, 32, a Queens, N.Y. native, founded Walker and Company, one of the only predominantly Black firms in Silicon Valley, the Northern California tech enclave that is home to Facebook, Google, Pinterest and other leading tech brands.
After graduating from SUNY Stonybrook in three years, Walker headed West for graduate school at Stanford University. The bicoastal move exposed him to the tech environment, where he saw an opportunity. He found one at Foursquare and then as an in-house entrepreneur at Andreesseen Horowitz, one of the world’s biggest venture capital firms. While there, he acquired his own start-up in Bevel.
Walker’s success philosophy is based in staying true to yourself and your values.
“I was focusing on the things that everyone else would have liked me to do rather than the things I was uniquely qualified to do— things where I thought I was the best person in the world to do that thing. Ben [Horowitz] had to beat this in my head.
He’d ask, “What do you believe that no one else believes? What are the unique advantages that you have to do something successful competitively? What’s your strategic advantage? The one thing you feel like you are the best person in the world to do?” It was freeing. It took me seven months to realize I had to think about things in that way and not worry about pleasing other people,” Tristan Walker told 99u.com.
As it turns out, Walker himself was frustrated by the array of razors that couldn’t help him with blemish-free skin. Bevel was built from that very personal frustration. Despite it’s very specific market, Walker has raised millions and Bevel is sold in Target stores nationwide.
Walker also founded CODE2040, a non-profit that helps Black and Latino engineers secure tech internships.
“Spend the first third of your life learning, the second earning, and the third returning. I try to shorten earning so I can maximize returning,” he told Forbes last year.
For his vision and his success as an entrepreneur with a company rooted in his personal values, Walker remains one to watch.
PHOTO: PR Photos