Startup Story: Hawkers Sunglasses’ Change of Direction

With more competition than ever before, startups today have to be ready for anything. It was a lesson the founders of Hawkers Co. would learn after making it big with their fashionable sunglasses. As it turns out, they would need more than just strong retail sales.

When the company needed some serious guidance, the founders of Hawkers looked for someone they could trust. Alejandro Betancourt made a name for himself with his international investment group O’Hara Administration, and it was his business savvy that turned the company around. We’ll look at how he was able to grow Hawkers’ position in the market and what this has meant for the Hawkers brand as a whole.

The Original Numbers of Hawkers

The company started with four friends in a flat in Spain who originally wanted to make their own version of Craigslist. After running into some cash flow issues, they had a few other money-making tricks up their sleeve. They found success reselling a brand of sunglasses called Knockarounds, and the group officially changed course.

Hawkers posted some very strong numbers soon after the company’s inception in 2013. In just two years, the founders were making fashion lists and in three years, they were moving 10,000 units per day.

The Trouble With Growth

Hawkers definitely hit it big with its fashionable frames and polarized lenses. The demographic was young and hip, and the demand was definitely high. All of the positives for the company spelled big growth, but growth would come with its own set of challenges.

The company was spending money as fast as it could come in. All the new locations, manufacturing processes, and extra employees were taking their toll. Rather than wait until it was too late, the friends reached out to Alejandro Betancourt, who would eventually become the President of Hawkers.

Hawkers and Social Media: How Influencer Marketing Boosted Profits

When Alejandro Betancourt looked at the numbers, he noticed an opportunity in the form of social media. Today, it’s not unusual for brands to gravitate toward this kind of marketing. Some companies are practically tailor-made for certain platforms.

However, in the mid-2010s, household names like Instagram were still on unstable footing and not everyone wanted to take the chance. Betancourt spotted the opportunity, though, and was confident that Hawkers could make it work. It made all the difference for the company.

Hawkers had a young user base built in already, and many of its customers were already posting pictures of their new sunglasses online. Betancourt merely formalized the process. By reaching out to influencers of all backgrounds, largely on Instagram, the company brought in over $65 million in 2016 from social media alone. That’s more than 90% of all sales that year.

Why Alejandro Betancourt’s Ideas Worked

Certain things in the business world can’t be taught. Betancourt couldn’t look up formal marketing studies on Instagram because he wouldn’t have been able to find anything. Instead, he used a combination of street smarts, instinct, and experience to recognize the power of social media.

Influencers don’t hold as much cache as they once did, but a few years ago, just one post could make all the difference. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or a celebrity, social media followers pay attention to what people post. Hawkers would enlist thousands of people to be brand ambassadors in its home country alone, and their enthusiasm was enough to largely forgo traditional (and far more expensive) marketing.

This wasn’t the only change that Betancourt would make. To keep up with the influx of orders, he prioritized customer service and transparency regarding the supply chain. If there was a problem with an order, customers were notified and kept in the loop about when they’d receive their package.

Hawkers Today: What’s On the Horizon?

Hawkers has sold sunglasses in more than 140 countries and has offices all around the world. The company continues to adapt to emerging market needs while maintaining a strong sense of corporate responsibility. Customers can clearly see this in its line of eco-friendly sunglasses. This new line features both sustainable manufacturing processes and responsible packaging.

Any startup can learn something about financials if they study the main events of Hawkers. After the founders spotted a problem, they weren’t afraid to call in Alejandro Betancourt and follow his advice. It was an undoubtedly smart move on their part.

Originally published at on August 23, 2021.




Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, President of Hawkers Co. | International businessman, based in London, UK |

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Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez

Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez

Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, President of Hawkers Co. | International businessman, based in London, UK |

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