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How Alejandro Betancourt López Elevated Hawkers

Tech success stories tend to follow a predictable, near-mythical pattern. Every tale starts with a visionary genius who’s in possession of a ground breaking idea and proceeds to build an unlikely empire out of their garage.

These are nice stories, but they provide little instruction to most entrepreneurs. A better case study for success is the career of Alejandro Betancourt López, the Venezuelan business executive with a net worth north of $2.6 billion and a long trail of profitable companies.

His story may not match the grandeur of the garage-to-corporate campus tale that’s been romanticized by companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Uber. But the way he turned Hawkers, a Spanish start-up in the luxury eyewear space, into a global phenomenon offers instructions on how a few shrewd moves can take a successful company from good to great.

The Beginnings

Alejandro Betancourt López first came to Hawkers as an investor. At the time, the company had recently pivoted from a Spanish clone of Craigslist into a business that sold fashionable sunglasses at a fraction of the price charged by brands like Gucci, Prada, and Ray-Ban.

The company had nearly everything necessary to be successful. The product was solid. The management team had demonstrated an ability to pivot toward success. And there seemed to be a perfect niche in the marketplace for a lower-priced alternative to luxury eyewear.

All Hawkers needed was a bit of vision to help it break internationally.

After[1]  leading a funding round that raised around $56 million, Alejandro Betancourt López was named president of the company. The founders recognized his acumen and vision, which made them comfortable in making the rare move of allowing an outsider to run their business shortly after it found success.

They believed his profound understanding of international markets and business strategy could catapult the brand beyond Spain’s borders. Shortly after stepping into the role, Betancourt López started to develop a three-pronged strategy.

His plan focused on supply chain refinement and expanded marketing, areas that would bring Hawkers more agility. By bringing manufacturing in-house, the company could create new models, refine styles, and quickly pivot toward fresher looks. And, with better marketing, the brand could reach new audiences.

Specifically, Alejandro Betancourt López sought out the youth market. With their low prices and hip style, Hawkers sunglasses were perfect for consumers who valued both fashion and frugality.

Alejandro Betancourt López: Embracing Change and New Media

To reach the world’s youth, Alejandro Betancourt López decided to meet them on their home turf: social media. At the time, many luxury brands regarded social media as insubstantial and unserious. But Hawkers was willing to work in the upstart space.

“I believe that you have to understand that the world is changing so fast,” Betancourt López said[2] [3] . “The markets, the appetites, the cultures — everything changes.”

Propelled by that vision, Hawkers poured cash into targeted social media marketing. Through outlets like Instagram, the brand spread awareness of its flashy, fashionable sunglasses — and their budget-friendly prices.

But it wasn’t just social media prowess that led Hawkers to international success. Alejandro Betancourt López added an extra layer to the marketing strategy. He introduced a campus ambassadors program, which turned stylish students into brand evangelists.

These ambassadors, who applied online to join the Hawkers team, were supplied with tickets to concerts and events by the company. In return, they were required to post pictures of themselves wearing the sunglasses.

Together, these two advertising gimmicks added up to more than the sum of their parts. This grassroots marketing transformed Hawkers from just another brand into a must-have accessory seen at coveted events and through the lenses of influencers.

It wasn’t long before the company’s net worth soared, and Hawkers was finding success across Europe and North America. As it continued to court the youth market, the company began producing new kinds of sunglasses, including pairs made from 100% recycled material, to appeal to the environmental consciousness of their consumers.

Hawkers’ rise was a remarkable upset in an industry monopolized by giants like Luxottica, which produces household names like Oakley, Ralph Lauren, and Coach. Alejandro Betancourt López’s strategic foresight proved prescient in an industry that had been a virtual monopoly for decades.

Maybe that narrative is less mythic, but it’s arguably just as compelling as the commonly told tech success journeys. Betancourt López’s time with Hawkers proves that opportunities exist to take good products to stratospheric heights. And that’s something all entrepreneurs can learn from.