The European Business Review: Alejandro Betancourt Continues to Transform Hawkers an International Fashion Company
Hawkers was founded with a clear philosophy: Offer designer, high-quality and high fashion sunglasses that are priced affordably and by doing so, they created a lifestyle brand that quickly grew followers.
After early success in Spain, the company suffered some losses. At that time, the fashion sunglass company turned to Alejandro Betancourt Lopez to lead the company. Since then, the company’s fortunes have rebounded. With Alejandro Betancourt as President, Hawkers has grown into an international fashion firm.
Betancourt Lopez and a group of investors that put 50 million Euros ($56 million USD) into the company, they strengthened the leadership, putting Nacho Puig in as CEO to take charge of the company’s operations and business development.
Building on its success in Spain, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez broadened the distribution of Hawkers to all of Europe, Asia and North America. In 2018, Betancourt increased his investment by another 20 million Euros ($21.7 million USD). This made him the major shareholder with a 50% controlling interest.
Even with setbacks along the way, Betancourt Lopez told his colleagues to push forward. “Never stop trying,” he said. “You fall down many times. The important thing is to keep getting up.”
The company has grown over the years and now has more than 200 employees with offices in Barcelona, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Elche and Hong Kong. With Alejandro Betancourt Lopez at the helm, the company now has a market presence in more than 50 countries around the globe and has sold more than 4.5 million sunglasses.
Hawkers has grown from an initial $300 investment by the founders, Caleb Garrett and Alex Moreno, to more than $100 million in revenue.
Online and Social Media
Hawkers was one of the early businesses to benefit from Facebook advertising. Their Facebook ad campaigns increased sales and popularity. The company now has more than 6.6 million likes to rank as one of the most popular fashion companies on the social media platform.
One of Hawkers primary distribution channels is online. It’s one of the ways the company keeps the price of its sunglasses significantly less than its competitors without sacrificing quality. 90% of the company’s sales come from online, although Hawkers has more than 40 brick-and-mortar stores worldwide.
Another successful marketing channel has been the recruitment and deployment of brand ambassadors. The Campus Representative Program, for example, recruited 5,000 college students to promote Hawkers products on campuses throughout its markets.
Brand ambassadors parlay their social media presence to promote the Hawkers brand in exchange for prizes, including festival and concert tickets, plane tickets and other incentives. Unlike some companies that pay brand influencers to “endorse” their products, Hawkers brand ambassadors are chosen only from the passionate about the sunglasses company. The brand ambassadors generate excitement about the brand and also bring new ideas to life.
“Ideas are the result of an ongoing process of creativity and productivity” said Alejandro Betancourt. “I like to speak to people and ask their experiences and then rethink, re-ask and go through strategic themes several times.”
Celebrity Endorsements & Brand Tie-Ins
Hawkers sunglasses have been used by companies such as Kia, PayPal, Smart and Mercedes-Benz and the fashion sunglasses are regularly worn by a host of celebrities, including renowned football player Leo Messi, who has developed his own line within the Hawkers brand. Other celebs include Usher, Felipe Massa, Dani Alves, Paula Echevarria, Nicky Romero and Fernando Verdasco. The company also has a sponsorship agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers.
About Alejandro Betancourt Lopez
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez had early success as an entrepreneur. His asset management fund, O’Hara Administration, has investments in several companies, including Hawkers. His 20 million Euro funding raise led Hawkers to be named one of Spain’s top 10 startups in 2018. O’Hara Administration also has investments in Pacific Exploration & Production Corp, the largest independent oil producer in Latin America. Betancourt Lopez owns 20% of the company.
As the son of a musician, he is also the great-grandson of Former Venezuelan President Hermogenes Lopez. Although he never met the former President, he embodies the spirit of Hermogenes Lopez, credited with bringing electricity, railroads and underwater cables to Venezuela. This entrepreneurial spirit runs deep.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts with a double major in Business Administration and Economics. He went to speculate in energy sector businesses and broadened his portfolio to include real estate, farming, international trade and finance.
Originally published at https://www.europeanbusinessreview.com on May 8, 2020.