Flexibility and adaptability are core beliefs in his work. His successes have come in large part due to his ability to identify concepts that will transform markets. The companies he’s built – from ride-sharing businesses to sunglasses and eyewear brands – have benefitted from this mindset. As he continues to build his business portfolio, the beliefs will persist in guiding his work.
“I believe that you have to understand that the world is changing so fast,” he said. “The markets, the appetites, the cultures — everything changes.”
Alejandro Betancourt has used that ability to identify change and anticipate what it means for markets and consumers to develop an impressive array of business achievements.
Auro Travel Advances Ride Sharing In Spain
Betancourt is the founder and largest shareholder of Auro Travel, a Spain-based ride-sharing company. Betancourt founded the company after seeing an opportunity to compete with similar companies like Cabify and Uber. Spain requires such companies to have vehicle licenses to operate. The company aggressively began acquiring the licenses, which are in limited supply.
The company, founded in 2017, today has about 2,000 licenses, mostly in Madrid. It is the largest provider of private car services with drivers in Spain.
While the move was perceived to be risky at first, the strategy has paid off. Auro Travel developed a division, Arrow, which licenses the licenses to other ride-sharing companies seeking to operate in major Spanish cities.
Betancourt takes a hands-on approach to the companies in which he invests or creates. At Auro Travel, for example, he is fully involved in strategic planning, selection of key management leaders, and the creation, testing, marketing and launch of the company’s mobile app.
Betancourt believes the ride-sharing industry will continue to evolve and grow, noting that several of the companies are now branching out into areas such as food delivery. With the fierce competition for market share in the industry, he believes there will be contraction eventually.
A Career In Varied Industries
Alejandro Betancourt attended Suffolk University in Boston, graduating with a double major in international economics and business administration. He started his career working for Guruceaga Group as a new business manager for the international trade company. He later served as a director of trading and an executive trader for ICC-OEOC, an oil and gas company.
He served as a director of two energy companies. At BGB Energy, the Venezuelan affiliate of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, he oversaw sales origination throughout the country and was responsible for 13 turbines. He later served as a director of Pacific Exploration & Production Corp., a Canadian public company with operations throughout Latin America.
In 2012, Alejandro Betancourt joined O’Hara Administration. Today, he is the director and a controlling party of the asset management and investment firm. He oversees the firm’s fund-raising and investment strategies, working with European banks and institutional investors. He is the firm’s largest shareholder in private equity investments in technology, banking and oil and gas companies.
Bright Future For Hawkers
Hawkers began as a $300 investment by four friends, who bought 27 pairs of American sunglasses made by Knockaround. Reselling the sunglasses proved to be an instant success. The founders decided there was a market for affordable, high-quality sunglasses with a modest price point — $20 to $40 at the time. A Kickstarter campaign netted them nearly €190,000 and Hawkers began offering a range of colours, frames and lenses.
The founders, however, faced operational and logistics hurdles that had led to shipping delays and frustrated customers.
Alejandro Betancourt saw the potential in the young company. He and a group of investors put up €50 million for the eyewear company. In November 2016, Betancourt was appointed as company president for Hawkers.
In 2018, Betancourt made an additional investment of €20 million. Today, he is Hawkers’ largest individual shareholder.
Betancourt used several innovative marketing strategies to grow Hawkers to the third-largest sunglasses brand worldwide. He relied heavily on social media and influencer marketing to begin using well-known web stars to tout the product. Hawkers gave the influencers free sunglasses along with promo codes they could share with their followers.
Betancourt also began using celebrities and signed promotional deals. Ford, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, PayPal, PlayStation and Smart are among the companies Hawkers partnered with. In addition, the company signed a marketing agreement with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. Celebrity partners included Steve Aoki, Lionel Messi, Ricky Rubio and Usher.
Betancourt also launched a campus brand ambassadors program that has recruited 5,000 college students to date. The ambassadors, chosen due to their wide social media followings, host events on behalf of Hawkers in exchange for trips and festival and concert tickets.
Today, the brand has expanded across Europe to Asia, Australia and North America. For Betancourt, success is a never-ending pursuit.
“Everybody wants success. Everybody’s looking for success,” he said. “It’s a continuous pursuit of trying to achieve your different goals, which keep evolving. As long as you are in that race to continue to pursue them, you are on the road to being successful.”