“I started meeting people that were working in startups or building startups with the same concept or the same elements in different parts of the world.” Alejandro Betancourt Lopez is best known for his business acumen, as evidenced by his early involvement in success stories like Hawkers Co. and Auro Travel, a company that provides platforms like Uber and Cabify with the licenses they need to operate. With all his achievements, he has a lot to say about what it’s like to answer opportunity when it knocks.
In His Own Words
“You have to have elements where you get to meet the right people and they have the right idea, the right time, and they let you in to be part of that idea and that idea becomes a company.” Betancourt may put some of this down to luck when he relays his experience, but the truth is that he was ready to take initiative when the time came. Too many people will dismiss people and ideas, either because they’re nervous about getting involved or because they believe that the enterprise will never take off.
For Betancourt, he saw the situation differently. He assessed who was pitching the idea, and what steps they’d taken to turn it into a reality. This isn’t superior intelligence on his part or a hard-and-fast belief that he knows what’s coming around the corner, but rather an open-mindedness about the situation. Plenty of entrepreneurs claim to have cracked the code in their industry, it’s the investor’s job to determine if their pitches hold any water.
The Art of Timing
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez understands how timing can help or hurt an investor, and he’s the first to admit that it’s not an exact science. For instance, those who believed they made sure-fire bets before the pandemic would likely agree that there was no preparing for the devastation of COVID-19. Betancourt knows how scary it can be for would-be investors too. It’s certainly easy to advise someone to take a risk when you’re not the one bearing the consequences should that risk take a wrong turn.
One way that Betancourt works to turn the odds in his favor is by being more involved in the companies he stakes. It’s not that he doesn’t have faith in the people he backs. On the contrary, he has a great deal of confidence in their abilities and talents. His goal is not to turn the ship 180°, only to guide the ship through the roughest waters. So, when he was investing in the early days of Hawkers Co., he quickly noticed how the founders were spending money as fast as it could come in.
Rather than accepting this, he looked for ways that they could conserve their budget without decreasing their sales. It was his insights that helped lead the company to invest more in the relatively new platform known as Instagram. Long before influencer culture saturated the populace, he was able to showcase how these sunglasses could play a role in the hip lives of college students and young people in Europe and beyond.
If Betancourt had waited until every company was on Instagram, it would have made it far more difficult for Hawkers to stand out from the pack. Sometimes it only takes a single twist in the business model to make a difference. As he put it, “That company then has the momentum that needs to gather and evolves into a success story.”
Knowing the People Behind the Product
Because companies need to find their own branding voice, it can be easy to think of them as the values they represent. Betancourt says that it’s important to look beyond the superficial to the true values of the leaders and staff. Betancourt believes that no matter age and time you start, there are always going to be ways to find the right people at the right time. You also don’t have to wait until someone finds you to get involved.