The Hawkers Sunglasses brand, started by brothers David and Alejandro Moreno, Pablo Sanchez, and Iñaki Soriano, was enjoying a significant amount of success from the time of its launch in late 2013 until mid-2016. It was at this point that the co-founders realized they would need outside funding to move the company forward.
Although Hawkers was making millions of dollars in revenue from its branded sunglasses, the co-founders struggled to keep expenses lower than revenue. They decided to seek outside funding, and that is when the business executive and angel investor Alejandro Betancourt Lopez entered the picture.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Provides Nearly $60 Million in Funding
In the late summer of 2016, Betancourt Lopez contributed $50 million euros to the funding round started by the principals of Hawkers. He made this contribution on behalf of his asset management company, O’Hara Administration.
Other investors in the 2016 funding round were Felix Ruiz, Hugo Arevalo, and Tuenti, a Spanish virtual mobile network company. Hawkers’ first attempt at outside funding was a success, and the money the company took in allowed them to correct their course. They quickly got out of debt and steered the sunglasses brand in the right direction.
The four founders of Hawkers Sunglasses offered Alejandro Betancourt Lopez the role of president of their company in November 2016. He saw enormous potential for the young, stylish sunglasses brand and gladly accepted the position. Betancourt Lopez pitched in another $20 million euros in 2018. His financial contributions made him the top shareholder of Hawkers, a move that gave him more than 50 percent ownership in the company.
How Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Capitalized on Hawkers Branding Success
The four co-founders of Hawkers have an impressive success story of their own. They launched Hawkers in December 2013 after having previously operated an online secondhand store and working as brand ambassadors for Knockaround Sunglasses.
To increase brand awareness, the Moreno brothers, Sanchez, and Soriano contracted with social media influencers to post photos of themselves wearing a pair of Hawkers sunglasses. The strategy was successful, and they soon established low-cost and word-of-mouth advertising campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. The influencers they chose to work with placed a coupon code on their post that allowed their followers to purchase a pair of Hawkers sunglasses at a discount.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez saw that this was a winning strategy when he came on board as company president in late 2016. He also agreed with the co-founders’ approach in operating the business mostly online to keep overhead expenses low. With his help, the Hawkers brand soon became popular around the world. Previously, most sales transactions took place in Spain, the home country of the four co-founders.
In 2017, Betancourt Lopez pushed the branding concept even further when he formed partnerships with other brands that allowed each company to take advantage of the popularity of the other. One of his first collaborations was with the Spanish clothing retailer El Ganso. Images of young, fashion-conscious models wearing El Ganso clothing and the Hawkers sunglasses brand were easy to transform into digital ads. Hawkers saw an immediate increase in ad engagement of 86 percent, thanks to the company’s initial brand partnership.
Working with social media influencers and forming strategic partnerships with other leading brands were the driving forces behind Hawkers’ rise to worldwide prominence over the next few years. A company that started out with a $300 investment less than a decade earlier now commands the same respect as well-established sunglasses brands Ray-Ban and Oakley.
Hawkers Most Recent Product Launch: Eco-Friendly Sunglasses
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez has also been instrumental in researching and understanding the demographics of customers who buy the company’s products. People who buy sunglasses from Hawkers tend to be in their late teens to early 40s, environmentally conscious, and love spending time outdoors. Hawkers’ latest product, sunglasses made from responsibly sourced materials and sold in 100 percent sustainable packaging, felt like a natural progression to cater to the company’s primary demographic.
However, Betancourt Lopez is quick to point out that scoring a larger percentage of market share is low on the list of priorities with this product launch. He states that sustainability and responsible sourcing are social justice issues that will only grow in prominence over time.
Another thing Alejandro Betancourt Lopez stresses about new start-up businesses is that success rarely happens by chance. Hawkers is in the position it is today because its co-founders had enough foresight to understand when they needed outside funding. That decision led to him becoming the majority owner of the company and implementing proven growth strategies.
Less than five years after Betancourt Lopez became the president and majority owner of Hawkers, the company is one of Spain’s top 10 startups. Hawkers sells sunglasses in 50 countries and has earned more than $100 million dollars in sales revenue. This is all thanks to making sound business decisions and learning from the ones that did not work out so well.
This article has been published in accordance with Socialnomics’ disclosure policy.