Entrepreneur Tristan Walker was tired of shopping in the ethnic aisle. Whenever the chief executive of Walker & Co. wanted to buy grooming products, the only ones that worked for his coarse, curly hair were in a small section of the drugstore that catered to minorities. “What frustrated me was how much money this demographic spends,” he says, while at the same time being offered such limited product options.
So in 2013, Mr. Walker, 31, founded a company in Palo Alto, Calif., to sell products geared to people of color online. His first product, the Bevel shaving system, came out that year. Last month, he raised a $24 million round of funding, and next year he’ll launch his first women’s line.
Born in a tough neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., Mr. Walker had never heard of Silicon Valley growing up. When he was 4, his father was shot and killed. His mother worked for the New York Housing Authority.