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Walker & Co’s Bevel shave system bags $7 million

New York entre­pre­neur Tris­tan Walk­er has just announced a prince­ly $7 mil­lion Series A invest­ment for his ecom­merce firm, Walk­er & Co.

The twen­ty-nine year-old for­mer Foursquare busi­ness devel­op­ment lead and Andreessen Horowitz entre­pre­neur-in-res­i­dence launched his per­son­al care prod­ucts firm Walk­er & Co last year. Intrigued ecom­merce man­agers who know how crowd­ed this space is may be won­der­ing how Mr. Walk­er per­suad­ed Andreessen Horowitz (who led the round) to invest in his project, which has so far focused on mar­ket­ing a sin­gle core product.

An uphill strug­gle that paid off 

The prod­uct is Bev­el, a shav­ing sys­tem unique­ly designed to pre­vent the skin irri­ta­tion fre­quent­ly expe­ri­enced by African-Amer­i­can men with coarse, curly facial hair. The high-end, sin­gle-blade Bev­el razor pre­vents the irri­tat­ing skin bumps men of col­or suf­fer from when using mul­ti-blade razors (the lat­ter tug at hair fol­li­cles, cut­ting them beneath the skin, where­upon new­ly grow­ing hair tends to re-enter pores and become ingrown). The Bev­el sys­tem also includes shav­ing creams and salves, plus a styl­ish­ly-designed shav­ing brush.

Walk­er had some­thing of an uphill task ahead of him: an astute ecom­merce ana­lyst could prob­a­bly pre­dict that main­ly white investors would have lit­tle famil­iar­i­ty with this type of skin irri­ta­tion, and Walk­er cer­tain­ly encoun­tered this. When he likened his solu­tion to Proactiv’s anti-acne range dur­ing a pitch, one investor expressed skep­ti­cism that razor bumps were as big a social issue as acne.

Walk­er told her, “If you talk to 10 of my black male friends, eight will tell you this is a problem.”

But his mes­sage got through even­tu­al­ly, and he now has $6.9 mil­lion to play with (oth­er par­tic­i­pants in the round includ­ed Col­lab­o­ra­tive Fund, Upfront Ven­tures and Ron Johnson).

Next steps

Andreessen part­ner, Jeff Jor­dan, who will join the Walk­er & Co. board, said, “The per­son­al care mar­ket for peo­ple of col­or is a multi­bil­lion dol­lar mar­ket that is underserved.”

The new cash will be ploughed into devel­op­ing both exist­ing and new prod­ucts and to move the Bev­el sys­tem into bricks-and-mor­tar set­tings like spe­cial­ty stores and bar­ber shops. As he was nev­er taught to shave him­self and was forced to learn through painful expe­ri­ence, Walk­er also plans a series of in-per­son video-con­fer­ence tuto­ri­als (the “Bev­el Code”) to help oth­er African-Amer­i­can men to shave with­out risk of bumps and irritations.

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