Tristan is the Founder & CEO of Walker & Company Brands. Previously he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Andreessen Horowitz and the Director of Business Development for foursquare, where he oversaw strategic partnerships and monetization. He has been named to Ebony Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful People list, The Hollywood Reporter’s Digital Power 50, and Black Enterprise’s 40 Next. He is also the Founder and Chairman of CODE2040. Tristan holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Tristan has been a FoundersCard Member since 2010.
1. Your path to being director of business development at Foursquare started with a unique email to its co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai, would you elaborate?
Foursquare was definitely a company I wanted to be a part of. The infamous story started with my emailing Dennis and Naveen 8 times, telling them why I was so excited about the opportunity and how I could contribute. The 8th time Dennis replied “you know what I just may take you up on some of this. are you ever in nyc? – dens”. I replied “yes. tomorrow.” and booked my flight that night, flew out to NYC the following morning, hung out with Dennis and Naveen for a week and a month later I was leading business development for the company!
2. What is the one piece of advice you would give to other blossoming entrepreneurs and hopefuls?
The best advice I ever received was to think that the “trials you go through” and the “blessings you receive” are the exact same things. The trials you go through in business are opportunities to learn which is a blessing in disguise.
3. What “aha moment” led you to create Bevel, which aims to be a superior grooming line for men of color?
As I was spinning my wheels trying to come up with the next best social app I came to the realization that all of the entrepreneurs that I admired all had one thing in common they all tackled problems that were authentic to them. I thought if I am going to spend the next 10-plus years of my life doing anything, I want to feel like it’s truly authentic to me and it helps to enhance my life.
4. What resources as an Entrepreneur In Residence at Andreessen Horowitz contribute to building Bevel?
My time at Andreessen Horowitz really taught me the importance of being the most authentic entrepreneur I could be and feeling like I’m the best person out there to build the company I’d want building. The authenticity is an incredible comparative advantage.
5. What plans do you have to expand your Walker and Company Brand beyond grooming?
Walker & Company exists to make health and beauty simple for people of color, with a commitment to develop, design and test products and services specifically tailored to our community’s needs. We want to solve problems. Bevel, our flagship brand, solves problems for men and women related to shaving irritation (think: razor bumps and razor burn) but we think about other problems like Vitamin D deficiency, hyperpigmentation, natural hair transitioning etc.
6. You have mostly worked with technology companies, what new challenges did you face creating a physical product?
The cost of not getting things right the first time is much higher! You can go through 20 versions of an app with thousands of people testing it. With a physical product you have to get it right after only experimenting with a few prototypes because it takes more money and more time to iterate.
7. Prior to your current success, what was the worst job you ever had?
Cleaning bathrooms at a summer camp when I was 13/14. The WORST.
8. Who is someone we should be following on Twitter right now?
9. Aside from your own, what company or industry are you excited to watch develop?
I have been really obsessed with all of these mobile health apps and also parenting apps. My favorite app in this space is GLOW. They’re working on a big idea.
10. Give us your best plug/brag a little about as to what you’re working on now/next?
Our vision is to build the world’s most consumer-centric health & beauty products company. We have some really great products and brands in the pipeline to really make that vision even clearer to consumers. Stay tuned!
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