Leading Hawkers Sunglasses Through Creative Marketing and Investment Strategy
What started as a $300 investment in a few pairs of sunglasses is now a massive multinational business taking on the biggest players in the eyewear industry.
Hawkers has transformed itself from a small regional reseller to the third-largest sunglasses company in the world.
Betancourt Lopez has made shrewd investment choices throughout his career that have driven profits for multiple companies, and he has masterminded a strategy that continues to pay dividends. As the company continues to grow its core business, it is expanding into related product lines that are likely to find the same levels of success.
Under Betancourt Lopez’s leadership, Hawkers sells its products in 50 countries and has more than $100 million annual sales. Since its founding, it has sold more than 4.5 million pairs of sunglasses with 90 percent of its business done online.
The company has a massive social media presence, with 6.6 million followers on Facebook, 1.6 million on Instagram and 188,000 Twitter followers.
In 2020, the company launched H20, a new line of sunglasses made focusing on the environment. To start, the line includes biodegradable lenses, frames and packaging. It also includes components manufactured from recycled materials, including using plastic bottles that have been retrieved from the world’s oceans.
In addition to sunglasses, Hawkers now offers prescription glasses and contact lenses. Betancourt Lopez is also leading the company through expanding its Madrid base, with more sales throughout Europe, the Americas and Australia.
The Hawkers Story
In 2013, brothers Alejandro (Alex) and David Moreno, along with friends Pablo Sánchez Lozano and Iñaki Soriano had a business idea. The concept? Create a trading website, Saldum, that would become the Craigslist for second-hand goods in Spain.
An associate brought them some well-made, inexpensive sunglasses and the group invested $300 to buy 27 pairs of Knockarounds, an American sunglasses brand. That’s the genesis of Hawkers.
The company saw some early success and decided that the key was to sell its own brand of sunglasses. A Kickstarter campaign launched, and 9,000 supporters committed just shy of €190,000. That allowed the business to use a manufacturing facility to produce its own new brand.
From its inception, the Hawkers strategy has been to sell high-quality sunglasses at a reasonable price — between $20 and $40. In addition, Hawkers wanted to be sure and provide sunglasses the way their customers wanted them, so the company offered a broad array of colors, frames and lenses.
The company grew rapidly, but with growth came other challenges. Hawkers struggled to fulfill orders promptly and customer service suffered. The founders needed to bring in new investments and external perspectives to take the company to the next level.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Takes the Lead
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez saw an opportunity to invest in Hawkers and established Saldum Ventures with a group of investors. The group included Félix Ruiz and Hugo Arévalo, two founders of Tuenti, an established social networking app. Saldum Ventures invested €50 million (about $56 million).
The investment was just the first for Betancourt Lopez. Two years later, he invested an additional €20 million, making him the company’s largest individual shareholder.
Later in his career, he joined the O’Hara Administration, an investment and asset management firm. There, he oversees the firm’s investment strategy and fund-raising, working closely with institutional investors and European banks. He is the firm’s largest shareholder for private equity investments, primarily in oil and gas, banking and internet companies.
Hawkers has been primarily an internet company throughout its life. Betancourt Lopez knew that without an opportunity to try on the sunglasses easily, the company needed to rely on word of mouth and endorsements.
In addition to investing heavily in online advertising, especially on Facebook and Instagram, the company started using influencer marketing early on.
The influencers program has led to relationships with some of the biggest names in entertainment and sports. Hawkers has established relationships with sports stars Lionel Messi, Ricky Rubio and Fernando Verdasco, model Paula Echevarria, singer User and DJs Steve Aoki and Nicky Romero.
The company has also connected itself with some of the world’s best-known and respected brands. Hawkers has created limited-edition sunglasses for big-name partners, including Ford, Mercedes Benz, PayPal and PlayStation. Partnerships have ranged from the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers to Pull & Bear, a clothing company.
The official campus reps gain first-hand, real-world business experience while also getting some sweet perks — such as tickets to travel and attend concerts and festivals worldwide. The program now has more than 5,000 participants.
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Originally published at https://beforeitsnews.com on June 17, 2021.