Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Discusses Hawkers Expansion Plans

Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Discusses Hawkers Expansion Plans

Hawkers is a popular Spanish sunglasses company known for its collaborations with celebrities and unique designs, such as the One Venm Hybrid models with UV400 protection — that offers nearly 100% protection from ultraviolet rays — and innovative anti-slip nose pads. Entrepreneur Alejandro Betancourt Lopez is both a major investor in Hawkers and the company’s president. He’s been instrumental in Hawkers’ huge success, partly due to his extensive use of online media and marketing to expand the company beyond its domestic market.

“We’ve been very successful in one country, which is where the brand was born, in Spain. And what we are doing is expanding that to Europe, which is the neighboring countries around Spain, and into Spanish language-speaking countries like Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, and others,” he observes.

“We’ve been very successful in Mexico. This is a country that we’ve been putting a lot of resources into lately, and we want to expand not only on the digital presence but the physical presence by opening stores. In the next two years, we should be opening some stores there and some optical services in different places in Mexico.”

Hawkers’ History

After previously dabbling in other startup business ventures, Alejandro Moreno, David Moreno, Pablo Sánchez, and Iñaki Soriano founded Hawkers in December 2013. Each partner had experience in different areas that would prove useful for the company, including business, graphic design, and programming.

Using an initial investment of $300, they decided to start by selling Knockaround, an American brand of sunglasses. They quickly sold all the units they’d purchased and began selling Miss Hamptons brand espadrilles, a casual, rope-soled sandal popular in Spain. The trio next pivoted to Hawkers, creating an original brand of sunglasses and finding manufacturers in China, Italy, and Spain to produce the eyewear.

Hawkers snowballed during the following years, exceeding 15 million euros in 2014. This figure rose to 40 million the following year. Hawkers opened its first funding round in October 2016, which Betancourt led as an angel investor. This effort was highly successful, resulting in 50 million euros in funding. Company founders announced Betancourt’s appointment to company president the following month, replacing Alejandro Moreno. Hugo Arévalo also joined Hawkers’ board as the firm’s vice president.

Betancourt has continued to expand the company’s brand by building strategic relationships with partners and creating more fundraising opportunities.

Also read: How to Use Threads to Redefine Your Personal Brand

Building the Brand

It’s no secret Alejandro Betancourt Lopez has been instrumental in growing Hawkers brand recognition through targeted marketing to a younger demographic. His secret sauce? “We’ve been taking advantage of social media, online social media, celebrities,” Betancourt shares.

Other successful strategies include keeping price points low while offering incentives to influencers in its target audience.

It’s also retained its popularity through its early growth by continuing to offer popular designs at affordable prices. This is an accomplishment that many brands struggle to achieve, but it’s essential for keeping its products accessible to its young audience. And in further appreciation and acknowledgment of its target demographic, Hawkers also strives to stay environmentally and socially conscious. Forbes reports that these younger generations “are the most likely to make purchase decisions based on values and principles (personal, social, and environmental).”

Brand ambassadors and sponsorships also add to Hawkers’ appeal, with Mercedes-Benz, the Los Angeles Lakers, Formula One star Lewis Hamilton, and Canadian singer Usher among its collaborators. Hawkers’ sales were primarily made through Twitter and Facebook initially, but most sales are now made directly to consumers through its website.

And as Hawkers spreads its wings across the globe, Betancourt credits the firm’s continued use of celebrities and social media for its successful campaign in Europe and Latin America.

“When I joined Hawkers, we were a company of 40 people,” Betancourt explains. “Today we employ more than 500 people. We have about 80 stores alone in Spain. We have a huge division of wholesale. And of course, the online nature of the company, which is where the company was born, employs about a hundred people alone. So we have grown, not only in countries and presence in different jurisdictions but also in the amount of people and families we employ and we provide services to.”

Changing Roles

Betancourt’s role at Hawkers has changed considerably since he first invested in 2015. “I think that with that growth, the roles within, not only my role but the different leaders of the company, has evolved into a more diverse role where we have to adapt to the different markets we are entering,” he muses.

“We have to learn how to not only apply the different tools and solutions we had when we were only a one-channel company, but now we’re omnichannel with a retail presence, a wholesale presence, an online presence. And to keep taking advantage of that, of the tools we were using, but at the same time being able to be efficient in the other channels that we’re building without affecting one another, but super complimenting them.”

Even in this fast-paced era, Betancourt surfs the waves of new tech while realizing that without basic customer satisfaction, even the best digital presence will fail. That’s why he’ll continue to innovate and elevate Hawkers.

“We were born as a net, digital company, but the main success was that we were providing quality, and good quality product at an affordable price, which was something different in a market where mostly the big brands had a, we can call it kind of a monopoly,” he says. “Hawkers was able to penetrate by providing the same quality, or even better quality product, at a fraction of what was out there in the market.

“Plus it was cool, it was fresh, and we were doing something different than anybody else at the time, which is online social media marketing. That approach totally disrupted the market in the way we penetrated the market. I think that innovation has built a huge brand that is today Hawkers.”

Differences in the markets that Hawkers is entering require adapting the sales tools and solutions that the company used when social media was its only marketing channel — and Betancourt is ready to face that brave new world.

Written by
Isla Genesis

Isla Genesis is social media manager of The Tech Trend. She did MBA in marketing and leveraging social media. Isla is also a passionate, writing a upcoming book on marketing stats, travel lover and photographer.

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