TheGrio’s 100: Tristan Walker, unlocking Foursquare’s corporate partnerships

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Tristan Walker has enabled a mobile social application, Foursquare, to completely transform location-based marketing since 2009. By generating major corporate and media sponsorships with Starbucks, MTV, New York Times and NBA, Walker and his business development team have brought attention to and incentivized use of the popular app, which has more than 3 million users.

Tristan Walker is making history … by getting users and corporations hooked on Foursquare, a mobile social networking app that encourages people to “check in” when they visit specific places, like restaurants, bars, shops or parks. Each time someone checks in, Foursquare alerts the user to nearby deals and lets them know if a Foursquare friend recently checked in near by. The deals are the handiwork of Walker’s business development team, and they’ve helped draw Foursquare’s more than 3 million users to the app.

Before joining Foursquare in August 2009, Walker studied at Stanford’s business school and interned at the Boston Consulting Group and Twitter.

What’s next for Tristan?

“I really hope to redefine what loyalty means for merchants and consumers,” says Walker, “to recreate that nostalgic ‘remember your name and order’ type of loyalty that consumers want and seek, and deepen the connection between merchants and consumers.”

In his own words …

“Passion and humility — if you want to command the respect of the people you want to help you become an entrepreneur, those are two things you need,” Walker told VIBE magazine in 2010. “At Foursquare, I walked in and said, ‘I will do whatever you want for a month for free. If I deliver, let’s talk.’ And it worked out for me.”

On black history …

“To celebrate black history every day is to wake up inspired by those black entrepreneurs who have paved the way (Mr. Bob Johnson, Mr. Reginald Lewis, Ms. Oprah Winfrey, and others) — those who have shown us that such barriers as racism, discrimination, and lack of opportunity should not be self-defeating obstacles,” Walker told theGrio. “I study those successes each and every day so that I, too, can one day inspire the next generation of black entrepreneurs.”

A favorite quote …

“Money is finite, praise is infinite. Praise your employees until you are red in the face.” – Irv Grousbeck, one of Walker’s professors from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

A little-known fact …

More than 100,000 people download Foursquare every week.

Editor’s Note: Foursquare and theGrio are celebrating black history in your community. Go to to learn more about how to unlock the black history badge by visiting significant locations in black history.

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