Tristan Walker is on a mission.
His startup, Walker & Company, makes health and beauty simple for all people of color. Their first product is Bevel, a shaving system designed specifically for men with coarse, curly hair — one that’s also proven to reduce all shaving irritation.
Tristan knows a thing or two about startups. He was most recently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Andreessen Horowitz and before that, led business development at Foursquare.
“Ben Horowitz (co-founder of Andreesen Horowitz) would always tell me, ‘Tristan, there’s only two jobs a CEO has. Number one: not giving up. Number two: not running out of money,’” he said. “Looking back, all the startups I’ve been at that have been successes, they’ve been incredibly successful because of those two things.”
Tristan’s prior experience has helped him build an ardent, passionate community of Bevel customers who love the product, the brand, and deeply appreciate the mission.
“Black, Latino, and Asian consumers are the fastest-growing demographic in the country, let alone the majority of the planet,” he said. “Our ability to build a brand focused on this community is pretty exciting.”
After three months using @bevel I can safely say that razor bumps are an issue of the past. my favorite product– of any category–right now
— Rotimi Oyewole (@rowteeme) June 4, 2014
@bevel, I received your beautifully packaged set last night. Shaved this morning. Best shaving experience ever! Seriously.
— Anthony Cintron (@supdun) May 23, 2014
Even though they’ve only recently launched last December, they already have incredibly enthusiastic customers. Critical to this success is the brand Bevel has been able to quickly establish amongst their base.
As Tristan puts it: “When you think about brand — someone gave me this advice: ‘Brand is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.’ At that point, it’s up to the customers.”
How does a company that makes a shaving kit so delightful?
“We’re solving a problem that no one’s really solved before, so people get really enthusiastic and evangelize for us,” said Tristan. “The vast majority of our customers are from organic word of mouth.”
The market for health and beauty products targeted towards men and women of color is largely untapped. Tristan estimates that 16 million men, or 4 out of 5 African-American males, are afflicted by razor bumps from poor shaving experiences. Another 20-30% of American males have the same curly hair characteristics, making the market Bevel plays in quite sizable.
This is the market that isn’t being served effectively by large incumbents like Proctor & Gamble.
Walker and Company has been working with Gusto for a year. Much like Bevel addresses a need underserved by the incumbents, Gusto makes payroll simple, modern and hassle-free so entrepreneurs like Tristan can focus on building their business.
“I knew I had to think about payroll, but it was something I really didn’t want to think about. That means I wanted a company that would make things as simple as possible for us,” said Tristan.
“Gusto has been a lifesaver. I don’t have to worry anymore and all my back office loads are fixed with a push of a button — that’s special.”
We’re very proud to help entrepreneurs like Tristan and companies like Bevel do amazing things. Huge thanks to Tristan for taking the time to chat with us!