When Tristan Walker decided to raise venture capital money for his new startup, a health and beauty company that makes products for people of color, the fact that he was running a tech company — not a retail company — was key. “When I started, I said we’re a tech company. That’s bullshit,” Walker said at Recode’s Code Commerce conference in Las Vegas. “If you go to any kind of venture capital firm on Sand Hill Road and you say you want to build a retail business, you’re not going to raise any money. So to say that you’re a direct-to-consumer e-commerce business focused on subscriptions … it allows us to really talk about how we kind of focused on tech.” That strategy worked. Walker’s startup, Walker & Company, has raised $33 million from well-known VC firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures; its flagship brand Bevel, a line of razor blades and lotions for people with “coarse and curly hair,” is sold in major retail stores like Target.
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