Startup expert and business mogul, Tristan Walker started his entrepreneurial career in Silicon Valley in 2009. As the head of business for the tech company, FourSquare, he propelled the company to new heights by securing 300 merchant partnerships with brands like American Express and BravoTV. He then went on to launch his own brand, Walker & Co., where he focuses on providing grooming products for people of color. In the midst of his success, Walker decided to leave the diversity lacking tech hub of Silicon Valley and move south to Atlanta, Georgia.
After Walker & Co. merged with Procter & Gamble in 2018, Walker felt it was time to move his brand and his family to an area that would foster a more conducive environment for a successful Black business and afford more opportunities for his family.
“It was important for us to be in a place that’s more diverse than the places that we were,” Walker told NBC News.
The lack of opportunities for Black tech professionals in Silicon Valley is no secret. With big tech companies like Facebook that have been experiencing diversity issues for years, many Black entrepreneurs like Walker have decided to create their own table, instead of expending energy fighting for a seat at Silicon Valley’s table.
Although Walker grew up in New York, he frequently visited his grandmother in Aliceville, Alabama but never planned to call the south home. However, the appeal of Atlanta’s culture and booming Black business scene aligned with his vision for Walker & Co.
“When I thought about cities in this country that were thriving, Atlanta won and there was no second place,” he said.
Aside from the advantages Atlanta provided for his company, Walker also feels the southern city has benefits for his children.
“I realized, particularly with my having two sons, what kind of world I wanted them to grow up in,” Walker said.
Walker’s move to the south is said to be an “example” of the Great Migration in reverse — where African Americans migrate to southern regions in search for better business and economic opportunities.
Although Walker has already been awarded opportunities like being elected to the Foot Locker, Inc. Board of Directors, his decision to move to Atlanta was one that would open doors for other Black entrepreneurs as well.