Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Used Capital Investment and Effective Management to Scale Up Hawkers
Billing itself as the “next generation sunglasses company,” Hawkers hasn’t always been the trendy and successful sunglasses brand that it is today. In fact, the Spanish company has roots in Saldum, an online platform for the sale of second-hand merchandise.
After failing to make a profit with their original business model, Saldum’s founders, brothers Alejandro (Alex) and David Moreno along with their friends Iñaki Soriano and Pablo Sánchez Lozano, decided to risk a mere $300 on another online sales venture.
This venture began when Pablo Lozano brought some sunglasses back to Spain from the United States. The product of a company called Knockaround, these sunglasses seemed to have significant resale potential. The team of brothers and friends decided to test this theory by investing in 27 pairs, which they quickly sold online for a profit.
After building on this initial success for roughly six months, the team became the official Spanish distributor for the Knockaround brand, yet they remained discontented with their success. They were determined to market their own brand of sunglasses with an emphasis on attractiveness, accessibility, and a good price point.
Reborn as Hawkers, the company adopted a business model that attempted to compete against luxury brands such as Prada and Gucci with far more reasonably priced eyewear that costs roughly $20 to $40 a pair. This strategy ultimately paid off as Hawkers found success selling exclusively online and attracting customers through advertising deals with popular online platforms, including Facebook and PayPal.
In its early years, Hawkers benefited from multiple angel investors, including Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, who came along at a particularly low point in the company’s history. It was 2016, and Hawkers was experiencing serious financial difficulties.
In short, Hawkers was struggling to keep pace with its own extraordinary growth. It was generating millions of dollars in sales every month, but its expenditures were rising to such an extent that the company’s administrative team had to think about going out of business.
That was where Alejandro Betancourt Lopez came in. A native of Venezuela who studied business administration and economics at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts, he went on to find extraordinary success as a business owner, an administrator, an entrepreneur, and an angel investor.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez partnered with Hawkers after heading multiple companies in Latin America and Africa with a particular focus on the oil industry. He is perhaps best-known as the founder of O’Hara Administration, an asset management company that has investment projects around the world.
Although he began working with Hawkers when the company was struggling with significant problems, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez welcomed the challenge and faced it head on. This approach was consistent with his favorite saying: “Never stop trying. You fall down many times. The important thing is to keep getting up.”
Seeing tremendous untapped potential in Hawkers, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez spearheaded an agreement with a group of O’Hara Administration investors to raise and deliver a capital infusion for Hawkers with an approximate value of $56 million in U.S. dollars. It was the first major round of funding that Hawkers had received since it first opened for business in 2014, and it allowed the company to successfully scale up to meet rising consumer demand.
After negotiating this critical capital infusion in October 2015, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez took administrative control of Hawkers in November 2016. He made essential changes to the company’s leadership team and general operational strategies.
Betancourt Lopez’s most valuable contributions were probably in the area of marketing. Capitalizing on Hawkers’ long-established presence as an online enterprise, he significantly boosted the company’s overall presence on key social media platforms that cater to its primary target audience, young adults.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez arranged mutually beneficial partnerships with like-minded brands that helped boost Hawkers’ online visibility even more. In 2017, for example, Hawkers participated in a highly successful digital ad collaboration with the Spanish apparel company El Ganso. Digital marketing analytics have shown that images from this campaign boosted customer engagement by 86 percent.
Under Betancourt Lopez’s leadership, Hawkers became the sunglasses brand of choice for celebrities that include Paula Echevarría, Nicky Romero, Dani Alves, Fernando Verdasco, Felipe Massa, and Usher. Alejandro Betancourt Lopez also embraced targeted influencer marketing on college campuses, employing marketing strategies that combine word-of-mouth marketing with targeted social influencing.
As a result of these efforts and others, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez grew Hawkers into the mega-selling online store that it is today. Within several months under his management, Hawkers blossomed into a $70 million company that was moving more than 10,000 units per day.
In 2018, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez became the major shareholder of Hawkers when he upped his investment in the company by 20 million euros. After taking financial control of Hawkers with more than 50 percent of its capital value, he assumed his current role as president of Hawkers later that same year.
As part of his entrepreneurial emphasis on innovation and growth, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez leads with a focus on community progress and development. “I am aware of the responsibility that we have in the communities in which we are present,” he says. In light of this responsibility, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez has partnered in projects such as adding a new wing to the St. Carmen Salles School in Ciudad, Bolivar.
Under Betancourt Lopez’s direction, Hawkers has gained widespread notoriety for selling some of the best sunglasses on the market today. He continues to get the word out about Hawkers’ high-quality and affordable products using a range of forward-thinking strategies. Furthering his creative employment of celebrity endorsement and collaboration, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez recently spearheaded a retail partnership with soccer superstar Leo Messi, who is developing his own distinctive line of Hawkers sunglasses.