This morning Procter & Gamble acquired Walker & Company, Tristan Walker's startup focused on grooming products Bevel and Form. It was for an undisclosed amount, but buzz is that the investors recouped most, if not all of their $39 million investment. Walker and his team will continue to lead, moving their headquarters from Silicon Valley to Atlanta.

It is a major coup for Walker, not only as a young African-American founder, but as a founder focused on people with kinky or curly hair. It also nullifies the argument that certain segments of the population are not worth investing in because they do not have spending power.

It shows that even corporations are recognizing the power of understanding different cultural needs - and putting money on it.

Lost on the tonedeaf​

Just days ago, Facebook's Mark Luckie argued that the company, along with other Silicon Valley organizations, had a diversity problem. Here's what I said at the time:

In short, diversity is Facebook's key to survival, but it isn't honoring the people there. 

Worse, shortly after I ran the column, Luckie's Facebook note was taken down... by Facebook. It was returned after the online outcry.

The world, and America in particular, is getting more diverse, not less so. Many now-legacy startups are heading in the wrong direction.

A smart business decision

Discussion on understanding different cultures is not a nicety, but a necessity. Tomorrow's - well, now, today's - success stories will be based on diverse needs, and those diverse needs can be best understood by diverse companies:

As America becomes more varied, your customer base will begin looking different. The biggest mistake we make as entrepreneurs is appealing to urban, upwardly-mobile young people on either coast - and in living all across the country, I understand how diversity not only represents color, but also orientation, income and needs.

We can expect more companies like Walker & Company to be scooped up by legacy corporations looking to understand their next growing demographic and psychographic. Startups as well as corporations that do not grasp this concept will end up hurting their bottom line - and it should give you the incentive to build based on what you see, not on what you are told.

Published on: Dec 12, 2018
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