Late last year, former Foursquare exec Tristan Walker unveiled his next act, introducing a new eponymous consumer brand, Walker & Co. But he doesn’t want to create just any consumer products brand — he wants specifically to focus on solving problems faced by people of color.
The first product Walker & Co. released was Bevel, an end-to-end shaving system targeted at people with coarse, curly hair, fits that mold, but there will be more products to come, thanks to a $6.9 million Series A round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Walker served as the VP of business development at Foursquare (where Ben Horowitz was on the board) for years before embarking on his own and joining Andreessen Horowitz as an entrepreneur-in-residence. There he explored a number of possible startup ideas before settling on developing a new consumer products brand.
So it’s no surprise that Andreessen Horowitz, which was already an investor in Walker & Co.’s $2.4 million seed round, would also lead the Series A. Also participating in the round are Upfront Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Daher Capital, and Johnson + Partners.
Most of those investors were also in the seed round — “We wanted to keep it in the family,” Walker tells me — with the exception of Johnson + Partners. Founded by former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson, that firm was brought in to help Walker & Co. think about expanding distribution to making its branded products available outside the U.S. and offline, as well as online.
Along with the funding, Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan will be joining the company’s board. While they worked together during Walker’s EIR stint, the two had met years before when Walker was doing biz dev for Foursquare and Jordan was running OpenTable. At their first meeting, Walker was still at Stanford, finishing up business school.
But for Jordan, an investment in Walker & Co. wasn’t just about the founder that he knows so well. It was also about backing a product and the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a company offering products that meet a real market need. In a phone conversation, Jordan pointed out that people of color over-index in spend on personal care but are underserved by the health and beauty market.
The company’s brand and go-to market approach also follows a trend of companies like Bonobos and Warby Parker that go straight-to-consumer from their own sites. That, according to Walker, enables the company to have a one-to-one relationship with all of its customers.
And it’s the way all consumer retail brands are likely to be built online in the future, according to Jordan.
Some of the funding will go to research and development to come up with the next product that the company will launch.
In the short term, though, Walker & Co. is focused on content creation and education through its Bevel Code website and a partnership with Complex. It’s also all about trying to reach more customers through distribution in more places, while also improving fulfillment.