The financial success of Hawkers Co. was like that of many other startups. Instead of being a straight line to profits, it turned out to be less linear than the founders might have liked. We’ll look at where the sunglass company started, why the founders brought in Alejandro Betancourt, and how his skillful maneuvers brought the company to where it is today.
From Tech to Fashion: The Trajectory of Hawkers
Hawkers Co. is a popular sunglass brand around the world, but many people don’t know that it originally started as a tech company. A few friends in Spain wanted to create a site similar to Craigslist for their country. The founders were ambitious, but their cash flow was not nearly as robust as their work ethic.
After a while, it seemed like the numbers didn’t add up. They were spending more than they wanted without the correlating production they needed.
On something of a whim, they found success reselling a sunglasses brand from California in 2013, leading them to switch their business plan entirely to retail sales. Hawkers quickly saw traction with this business model, leading the company to be featured on various “best-of” lists in just two years.
10,000 Units a Day by 2016
The sunglasses sold by Hawkers are not just stylish but practical. At an affordable price, people can get fashion accessories that complement their individual aesthetic and the eye protection they need from UV rays. By 2016, Hawkers was moving 10,000 units per day and attracting more international interest from fashionistas everywhere.
Yet, the company faced some serious logistical problems not entirely unlike those they saw at the very beginning. As the founders expanded, they found it difficult to keep up with all the new financial demands. They wanted to move forward at break-neck speed but found that it was hurting their bottom lines. This was when the founders decided to look for outside help.
How Alejandro Betancourt Got Involved
Alejandro Betancourt had already made a name for himself with O’Hara Administration, an international investment group. The nowpresident of Hawkers was brought in for his impressive financial skills and an innate understanding of what it means to foster startups.
More money is certainly nice for a company that wants to grow, but there’s so much more to an enterprise’s success. Betancourt took the time to analyze the company’s strengths and weaknesses. He provided enough insight to set the company on a better path.
The Financial Success of Hawkers Co.
Betancourt made a few changes that you might expect any investor to do. He pushed for more transparency in the supply chain, ensuring all customers had the kind of customer service they could depend on. He was careful about where and how money was spent across the board.
However, he did make a few changes that you might not have expected from any investor. In the mid-2010s, Instagram was still making its way through the crowded social media landscape. Alejandro Betancourt saw this as a serious opportunity, even though the platform hadn’t fully established itself yet.
By focusing largely on influencer marketing, the company was able to effectively promote its products without having to balloon its marketing budget. Of the $70 million that Hawkers brought in, nearly 93% of the sales came from social media. In fact, Instagram uses Hawkers as one of its early success stories precisely because the company recognized its potential from the start.
Then and Now: Hawkers as a Startup
Alejandro Betancourt has gotten where he is today because of his experience and instincts. He believed in Instagram as a way to get the product in front of a young demographic. He saw how enthusiastic fans could be the key to the company’s financial success by onboarding thousands of brand ambassadors in Spain alone. Hawkers has sold sunglasses in more than 140 countries and continues to appeal to people from all walks of life.
Now that Hawkers has established a foothold in a competitive industry, Alejandro Betancourt continues to look ahead with a new eco-friendly line of sunglasses. For him, maintaining market percentage means being flexible enough to keep up with emerging needs of customers. By focusing on sustainability (and protecting the planet), Hawkers can continue its mission to provide award-winning, responsible fashion at a practical price.
The story of Hawkers is one that all startups could benefit from, particularly those that see growth from the very beginning. Bringing in the right person made all the difference for a few friends who started with very different dreams.