Venezuelan businessman and financier Alejandro Betancourt López has created and invested in several successful ventures, culminating in an impressive personal net worth of around $2.6 billion. How did the innovative investor soar into the billionaire stratosphere? Through hard work and out-of-the-box thinking, as typified by his role with trendy sunglasses brand Hawkers.
Betancourt was approached by the founders of the Spanish eyewear company in 2016 to head a round of investment that raised close to $56 million. The influx of cash allowed the company to rapidly expand its operations, and Betancourt López was subsequently appointed president.
That decision proved to be a wise one. With his ingenuity and focus on social media, the entrepreneur has elevated his eyewear firm to new heights.
Millennials who place an emphasis on doing their part to protect the environment are Hawkers’ ideal target customers. In addition, as a consequence of expanding competition, customers in the eyewear marketplace are becoming more price-conscious. These demands, in addition to others, have made Betancourt López acutely aware of the need to adapt to the wishes of consumers.
“Today, everything involves data and how you access the consumer,” Betancourt López explains. “If you’re able to succeed in accessing this consumer in an efficient and affordable way that’s economically viable and differentiates the product enough to make it attractive to them, then you have a winning formula. And as you see, the market is evolving every day.”
The Alejandro Betancourt López Secret Sauce
Betancourt López was among the first to crack the social media code and use it to advertise to his target consumer base. Not one to sit on his laurels, he’s now training his keen eye on the latest revolution: artificial intelligence.
“Today, we’re talking all the time about artificial intelligence — AI,” he muses. “We need to see how that’s going to affect the service that we’re providing and how consumers want to engage with the platforms and understand how to market to them better. As we said, it started with Facebook, then with Instagram, and then you add Twitter or TikTok — who knows how you’re going to access consumers 10 years from now and how they’re going to interact with these platforms?
“These are big questions. What I think enables you as a leader in the market is finding a constant way to differentiate yourself and provide a service that makes them feel that what you have is a different product that’s provided value to them at a reasonable price and continuing to access them with that proposition.”
How It Started
Alejandro Betancourt López attended Suffolk University in Boston and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration. He pursued careers in many industries, such as banking, information technology, and energy. In addition, he was instrumental in establishing a power company that provides electricity to much of Venezuela. Betancourt López has managed investments across a broad range of industries, boosting the success of many companies.
Betancourt López’s early success can be traced back to his ability to partner with well-known figures (today better known as influencers) from the world of social media who already had sizable online fan followings. Free products and a promo code were sent to these influencers so that they could spread the word about the brand to their audiences. Hawkers’ goods were so well received in Spain that the company eventually expanded into other countries throughout Europe, North America, and Asia.
Facing Challenges Head On
Alejandro Betancourt López didn’t get his billionaire club card by sitting on the sidelines when disaster struck. The way he handled the international chaos that was the COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point.
“The pandemic was a big problem for us, as it was for many other companies,” Betancourt states. “It was a big challenge. We had to adapt [because] not many people were going outdoors and needing sunglasses. So we focused more on developing the prescription eyewear part of it, and we tried to maintain the revenue of the company, which was a big challenge — trying to develop new products that would adapt to people not going outdoors, and using eyewear for their computers, and staying more at home.”
And it worked. The company’s prescription glasses business is now booming. Hawkers also rebounded with the sales of sunglasses soaring to pre-pandemic levels by 2022, when travel restrictions in Europe due to COVID-19 were mostly lifted.
Today, Betancourt López boasts, “We’re breaking records every week on growth and revenues. This not only indicates an ever-increasing interest in our goods, but also shows our brand is more powerful than ever.”
A Focus on Sustainability
Knowing your audience is imperative to success — and Betancourt López is very much aware of this. Eyewear is just one sector where eco-friendly designs are becoming more popular. To win over environmentally sensitive generations like millennials and Generation Z, Betancourt uses a variety of tactics.
“We’ve always been conscious about sustainable design, and we know that the market is shifting in that direction and that everybody’s becoming more conscious and wanting to understand how products impact their life, the environment, and the world at large,” he declares. “I think it’s fair to say we provide that information and that kind of intel to the consumer and to our customers. And the assurance is that we can develop products that are not only conscious of the environment but at the same time can provide a quality experience and keep the brand at its highest level.”
Simply stated, Hawkers and Betancourt López pay attention to what the company’s customers say from a sustainability perspective. Sunglasses from the firm’s H2O line are made using recycled plastics from the ocean. These glasses come in cardboard boxes and wrapping that can be composted or recycled.
Hawkers’ management has long been aware of consumers’ rising concerns for the environment, and the firm has made consumer education about its goods’ environmental impact a central part of its marketing strategy.
Alejandro Betancourt López’s Recipe for Success
There’s one crucial element Betancourt López says is vital to succeed and he’s happy to share. “Everybody has good ideas and they’re all very attractive but I think what differentiates great ideas from success is the people behind it,” he says.
“And I believe that a great idea always needs to be partnered with the right management. I think people that execute the strategy of an idea, it’s a key element into success. And then you have other factors that are very, very important, the right timing, the market. But that’s always conceived within the idea. I think execution with the right management is everything to success.”