Alejandro Betancourt is a name to know in the fashion and sunglasses industry. The businessman made a name for himself for his numerous business models and successes, including the success behind Hawkers Co., a modern sunglasses company taking the industry by storm. How can the sunglasses’ industry, with its seemingly basic product, see innovative change? The process was complex, but Betancourt proved to dominate the task.
The Story Behind Hawkers
Hawkers is a manufacturer and retailer of sunglasses. Setting out to compete against big fashion icons with a trendy but affordable product, Hawkers needed funding. The company was founded in 2015 by a group of friends. Initially a second-hand merchandise sales platform, the company stumbled upon Knockaround sunglasses and saw the opportunity for potential. The group began the venture with $300, purchasing 27 pairs of the brand’s sunglasses, which it would sell quickly online, creating a profit.
The catch was simple. The sunglasses were good quality and trendy — they looked and functioned liked high-end brands. The difference came in the price point. Hawkers were sold at $50 a piece while competitors were over $200. The problem was that to scale those funds, it became necessary to find financial support.
That’s where Alejandro Betancourt entered the picture. He helped grow the company, taking it from bankruptcy to the successful manufacturer it is today. As an angel investor, he knew the process well and had the funds to help the company move forward. He was a serial entrepreneur with several other business ventures under his belt. By investing in Hawkers early on, he was able to comprehensively change the brand and modernize the company well enough to gain international attention. Before diving into how he did it, consider the work Betancourt did to get the company to stable ground.
How to Improve a Brand and Build Success
As the founder of O’Hara Administration, a multinational asset management company, Alejandro Betancourt had the funds and talent to help turn Hawkers around. It would take a great deal of effort and support for that to happen.
The first step was securing the funds for the company. Betancourt helped broker a deal to put $56 million into the company. This huge infusion of funds allowed the sunglasses manufacturer to scale its operation significantly and quickly. That allowed it to meet the needs of consumers.
The changes did not stop there. Using the funds from the venture raise, Betancourt worked to change the administration and overall operations of the company. This streamlining process helped to reduce overall costs while also working to improve how the company performed in the industry.
Then came the significant changes to the company’s brand. Hawkers rebranded significantly with the goal of getting the attention of consumers, not just in the U.S. but around the world. The rebranding included a comprehensive update and modernization of the social media platforms for the company. A core component of this branding change was targeting customers that were in the younger demographic.
Changing a Company From the Ground Up Leads to Financial Growth
Over the coming months, Betancourt worked to mold a global brand image for Hawkers, allowing individuals to learn about a company with a lot of growth potential to offer. A key benefit of having that hands-on experience was that Hawkers carefully avoided many of the high-risk concerns and costly mistakes many young companies make especially during their early years.
This, and a foundation of innovative marketing strategies, including an increase in digital ad spend, helped boost the company. In customer engagement, Hawkers went from a virtual unknown to a global brand, increasing customer engagement by a massive 86 percent in a short period of time.
Hawkers Co. has raised over $80 million as of this time through two funding rounds. The latest funding round was in 2018. Moreover, the company has become a large player in the industry, acquiring competitors such as Loopas and Northweek Sunglasses. At this time, the company is operating in 50 countries, creating a sunglasses brand that’s recognized for its innovation and fashion while also keeping costs much lower. It’s sold over 4.5 million sunglasses — all starting from that small $300 initial investment.
What Makes the Difference for a Sunglasses Brand?
Having Betancourt behind the scenes helping grow the company has helped Hawkers stand out. It’s changed the way it operates, with Facebook and other social media campaigns generating millions of likes across most campaigns. The company’s primary distribution is online, which allows it to focus heavily on marketing online. Hawkers gets 90 percent of its sales from online purchases, but have a local presence with 40 physical locations around the world.
To further see success, the company also deployed its products to brand ambassadors, recruiting, at one time, 5,000 college students to use its products. That helped secure the company’s online presence through youth endorsements. Hawkers also had numerous brand tie-ins and celebrity endorsements that aided in propelling it forward, including names such as Leo Messi, Mercedes-Benz and Kia.
Today, the company’s new eco-friendly sustainable brand imaging has pushed it one step closer to being the role player in the industry. Betancourt’s influence and financial know-how have helped the company extend its reach on a continual basis.