How Did I Get Here?

Tristan Walker

Founder and chief executive officer, beauty company Walker & Co.
  • Education
  • The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Conn., class of 2002
  • The State University of New York at Stony Brook, class of 2005
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business, class of 2010
  • Work Experience
  • 2005–07
    Energy trader, Lehman Brothers
  • 2007–08
    Energy trader, J.P. Morgan
  • 2009
    Intern, Twitter
  • 2009
    Summer consultant, Boston Consulting Group
  • 2009–12
    Director of business development, Foursquare
  • 2012–13
    Entrepreneur-in-residence, Andreessen Horowitz
  • 2012–Present
    Co-founder and chairman, CODE2040
  • 2013–Present
    Founder and CEO, Walker & Co.
  • Life Lessons
  • “The trials you go through and the blessings you receive are the exact same thing.”
  • “I prioritize faith, family, and work. Anything outside of that, I don’t focus on.”
  • “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.”
  • In elementary school
    “Hotchkiss was the first time I got to see how the other half lived; I was raised in Queens [N.Y.] projects with bouts of welfare. I attended with Rockefellers and Fords. I was varsity captain for basketball and track and field.”
  • “I started trading oil and gas two weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit—it was a wild ride.”
  • “I was working on a summer case study for a large coffee retailer. I learned a lot, but consulting is definitely not my world.”
  • “I don’t recommend full-time grad school and full-time work for anybody.”
  • The single-blade safety razor and electric trimmer from Walker & Co.’s flagship brand, Bevel
  • “We make health and beauty simple for people of color. I joke about going to the ethnic shelf in aisle 40 of CVS, reaching to the bottom for a package with a photo of a 70-year-old bald black guy in a towel drinking a cognac while petting a tiger. That’s an experience that should not exist, and something that few people in Silicon Valley understand.”
  • “The best class was Acting With Power, a drama class where they coach you. I learned that power, encouragement, and motivation can be taught.”
    Stanford’s mascot
  • At Stanford, 2010
  • “The most stressful week of my life was when I got cut from J.P. Morgan. My wife and I had just bought an apartment, we were renovating, and I hadn’t heard back from Stanford yet.”
  • With Tyler Perry, 2012
  • “We find the brightest black and Latino engineering undergraduates and get them internships at the best technology firms. It’s working—we have a 90-plus-percent full-time offer rate.”