Many things may come to mind when you hear “fashion,” but caring for the planet as a whole is not on that list. Smartex I just raised a few bolts worth of money, seeding a round of funding to bring smart technologies to fabric manufacturing. The hopes are to be able to detect textile defects in real time. The company insists strongly on the green angle for its products.
Smartex has developed machine vision-driven software that makes fabric production more efficient by identifying defects that can basically be used to stop production if something goes wrong, preventing waste. In particular, the company claims that imperfect fabric can travel down the supply chain, with product problems discovered much later in the production process.
“I was born and raised by textile factory workers, I worked in factories when I was a teenager, I have a master’s degree in physics, and the textile industry has always haunted me,” said Gilberto Loureiro, co-founder and CEO of Smartex, in an interview with TechCrunch . “We co-founded Smartex because we are obsessed with solving problems – and the textile industry has big ones. It is probably the industry with the worst size/automation ratio. Textile mills don’t have the tools to produce in a clean, transparent and efficient way… generating huge amounts of waste and other problems.”
The company declined to share the valuation of its $24.7 million round, but told TechCrunch it was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tony Fadel’s Build Collective. Additional funding was raised by apparel giant H&M Group, DCVC, SOSV’s HAX, Spider Capital, Momenta Ventures, Bombyx Capital Partners and Fashion for Good. The company previously raised a $2.9 million seed round in 2019, co-led by DCVC and Spider Capital.
“It’s fantastic to work with such mentors who have invaluable experience. Lightspeed Ventures is a truly global firm and supports us in many of the geographies in which we operate, Paul [Murphy from Lightspeed VP] is also an operator with vast knowledge in scaling businesses,” said Loureiro, “Tony Fadel and his team are world-class mentors and operators with a unique product and marketing approach. Tony’s recent book ‘BUILD’ is one of our bibles.”
These Series A funds will allow Smartex to expand its business into new geographies and continue to grow the team.
“I am so excited about textile manufacturing in Asia and all the mega-factories in Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, etc. No one will ever solve textile problems without a deep understanding and presence in these markets. So getting into all the cultural aspects and setting up a business here is really cool,” Loureiro said. “Our ultimate vision and long-term goal is to expand into other industries to enable factories around the world to produce with significantly less waste. We won’t stop until we make a huge difference.”
It takes a pretty strong stomach to tackle an established industry where many of the manufacturing facilities don’t have the necessary infrastructure to manage AI-powered QA, but this is a changing industry.
“This industry is very challenging! That’s one reason few tech companies operate here. We feel blessed to already be making a huge impact – but compared to the overall size of the industry, it feels like nothing,” explains Loureiro. “If ever there was a time to solve massive problems – now is it!”