Tristan Walker is everywhere these days. Turn on NPR, and he's speaking to Kai Ryssdal. Hit up the Essence Festival's Money & Power Expo, and he's in the program. Open an issue of Fortune, The New York Times, GQ, or Fast Company and read all about him. Simply put, the 32-year-old Palo Alto–based CEO is H-O-T.
(Photography by Guru Khalsa)
Of course, we at 7x7 have known this for some time now: Walker made our annual Hot 20 back in 2013 as the founder of CODE2040, a nonprofit that teaches black and Latino kids how to code. But now, Walker—who did time at both Twitter and Foursquare before landing at Andreessen Horowitz as entrepreneur in residence—is channeling his support for people of color into another endeavor. As CEO of Walker and Company, the founder aims to build "a family of brands designing health and beauty solutions for people of color."
The company's first and signature brand, the Bevel Shave System, uses a single-blade safety razor that's proven to reduce razor bumps and prevent irritation in men with coarse, curly hair who are more prone to skin sensitivities and ingrown hairs. Walker credits Andreessen Horowitz cofounder Ben Horowitz with giving him the bit of advice that nudged him to start his very personal biz: "To remain true to my authentic self," Walker recalls. "After hearing that, I knew I wanted to solve this hair removal problem. I am uniquely qualified—I'm an expert. I know the pain points firsthand, from every day of my shaving life."
Just three years in, Bevel is no question a rising star brand, with more than $33 million raised from the likes of Google Ventures and celebs including the rapper Nas; a killer endorsement from Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes; and a big deal with Target that's bringing Bevel razors and shaving products to the masses.
Recently, Walker and his team of 32 (mostly based in Palo Alto with a handful in New York) introduced the newest act in the Bevel lineup: the trimmer. "We worked with master barbers and engaged with our customers to get feedback on what was lacking and how we could make it better. The end result is a beautiful product anchored by innovation," says Walker, obviously a proud papa to his baby brand. (Walker also has a lovely wife and a human toddler at home.)
So, what's next for Walker Brands? "Our vision is to build the world's most consumer-centric health and beauty products company. We want every single household in the world to know and love our brands." No specifics, but Walker hints that he may have something up his sleeve for folks with sensitive skin.
Silicon Valley Style
Jeans and a T-Shirt Guy
"I'm more into a simple and neutral look: logoless tees, a great pair of jeans. and some Yeezys!"
"Pharrell, full stop."
At Home With Tristan
"My house has very few pieces. It's more muted colors with accents to make it pop. Walker & Company's office style is similar—we didn't want just another sterile Silicon Valley office. One of our brand values is authenticity, and we wanted our space to reflect that."
"I cannot live without Sonos in my home. That company has changed my life."
Eats + Drinks
"There's a spot in Palo Alto called Coconuts that I love. It has great Jamaican food and good vibes—highly recommended. Also, I like to take visitors to brunch at Farmer Brown on Sundays. Great food. Good crowd. Dope DJs."
"Family time, for sure. My son is two years old, that age when kids are developing so quickly, learning something new every day. I want to be there to experience all of his stages—it's so cool to see him becoming his own person."