Up until 2016, Hawkers was a brand that financed itself—but in that year, they suffered major losses, which drove them in pursuit of external funding. This is how Alejandro Betancourt came to work with this company. In that year, he offered financing, and by November 16, he’d been elected the company’s new president.
All of this began with a 50 million Euro cash influx that O’Hara Administration, Betancourt’s asset management company, put together with other investors, including Tuenti, Felix Ruiz and Hugo Arevalo. That was enough to steer Hawkers in the right direction, and in 2018, Betancourt invested another 20 million Euros, which made him the largest shareholder at Hawkers, with control of more than 50% of company assets.
Prior to these investments, Hawkers had gotten its start on no more than $300, a small brand built by Alex Morena. They were focused on producing a simple product—and that is something that still holds true under Betancourt’s stewardship. By 2013, Hawkers was selling popular sunglasses on Shopify—and these days, their reach has grown much larger.
Today, Hawkers is known for selling some of the best sunglasses available anywhere. Products include sophisticated polarized lenses, and the extremely popular Nebulas, which are orange-pink glasses. They’re in high demand for a few basic reasons: they’re simple, they’re a quality product, and they’re affordable.
Rising Among Internet Rankings
The internet is what pushed Hawkers to where they are today. With strategic marketing, Betancourt was able to take this brand from relative obscurity and bring it into international prominence. The internet is Hawkers’ primary distribution channel, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why the brand is able to offer eyewear at such affordable costs. There aren’t brick and mortar stores to maintain. As far as promotion goes, one of the core parts of Hawker’s strategy is Facebook ads, which are a cost-effective way to spread the word about the brand.
With that, Betancourt has arranged for collaborations with other brands that helps boost online visibility even more. For instance, in 2017, Hawkers participated in a collaboration with El Ganso, which is a Spanish clothier. Images from those photo shoots made excellent digital ads, to the point that analytics showed engagement with the ads increased by 86%.
The result of these marketing efforts? It’s only taken a couple of years for Hawkers to sell millions of units around the world—and now, when people speak of the brand, it’s with the same respect that you’d expect of other famous brands like Oakley and Ray-Ban.
Quality Products a Driving Force Behind Sales
Marketing goes a long way toward product promotion but even with the best of strategies, a brand will fall flat if it doesn’t produce a product that lives up to the hype. In order to live up to expectations, Hawkers has been careful to produce eyewear that appeals to all ages. The materials from which they’re made are light yet durable, and there are lots of sizes, colors and lenses to choose from, which, when combined with the affordable price, means that people can buy several pairs to suit their wardrobes.
With a quality product, Hawkers has been able to pursue opportunities that pushes the brand even farther. Influences, athletes, film stars, tech leaders and musicians have all endorsed the brand, which has helped make them more prominent. Even better, in many cases, these endorsements were organic, not paid product placement, which lends an authenticity that most brands struggle to achieve.
What Led to Alejandro Betancourt’s Success?
Betancourt himself was well-positioned to bring this brand into the limelight. He holds bachelor’s degrees in both business administration and economics from Suffolk University in Massachusetts. He’s also involved in the oil industry in Latin America, and he acquired a large share of Pacific Exploration & Production. Betancourt is also the founder of the O’Hara Administration, which, as noted above, was responsible for pulling together the funds to fuel Hawkers’ rise to prominence.
Betancourt is more than an entrepreneur. He’s also a community leader. “I am aware of the responsibility that we have in the communities in which we are present,” he says. “We simply cannot move forward without contributing towards their progress and development.” That’s why he’s gotten involved in projects such as a new wing at the Carmen Salles School, which is in Ciudad, Bolivar. His drive to serve the community is behind much of what he does—and he’s never afraid to rise to a new challenge, hence Hawkers’ success.
With all of this, Betancourt is something of a marketing guru, pioneering strategies that involve reddit, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms. Video, in particular, is a central part of his marketing operations. “One of the greatest things about the internet is the ability to share videos,” he says. “Though it’s not strictly true that other forms of media are obsolete, with the death of printed books regularly prophesied, one third of all online activity is spent watching videos.”
While the future is never certain, it’s safe to say that given the growth seen at Hawkers over the past several years, this is one brand that will surely continue to grow. Betancourt’s strategic vision has been a big part of this growth—and so has the commitment to providing quality, fashionable products at affordable prices worldwide.