You may think of many things when you hear the word “fashion,” but generally taking care of the planet is not on that list. Smartex has just raised a few bolts worth of cash, raising a round of funding to introduce smart technology into fabric manufacturing. It is hoped that real-time detection of fiber defects will become possible. The company is pushing hard for the green angle of its products.
Smartex has developed machine vision driven software that makes fabric production more efficient by identifying defects. This can mainly be used to stop production and prevent waste if something goes wrong. In particular, the company claims that imperfect fabrics travel down the supply chain and product problems are discovered much later in the manufacturing process.
“I was born and raised in a textile mill worker. I worked in a factory when I was a teenager. I have a master’s degree in physics, and the textile industry has followed me ever since.” and Smartex co-founder and CEO Gilberto Loureiro, in an interview with TechCrunch. “We co-founded Smartex because we are obsessed with solving problems.The textile industry has a big problem.It is probably the industry with the worst ratio of scale to automation. We don’t have the tools to produce in a clean, transparent and efficient way, resulting in a lot of waste and other problems.”
The company declined to share the valuation of the $24.7 million round, but told TechCrunch it was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tony Fadell’s Build Collective. Additional funding was raised from HAX, Spider Capital, Momenta Ventures, Bombyx Capital Partners and Fashion for Good. The company previously raised $2.9 million in a seed round co-led by DCVC and Spider Capital in 2019.
“It’s been great to work with a mentor who has invaluable experience. Lightspeed Ventures is a truly global company, offering support in many of the regions in which we operate. [Murphy from Lightspeed VP] Tony Fadell 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 funding will allow Smartex to expand its business into new territories and continue to grow its team.
“I am very excited about textile production in Asia and all the giant factories in Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, etc. Without a deep understanding and presence in these markets, no one can solve the textile problem. So it’s really great to go into all the cultural aspects and do business here,” Loureiro said. “Our ultimate vision and long-term goal is to expand into other industries so that factories around the world can produce with significantly less waste. We are not going to stop.”
It takes a pretty strong stomach to face a entrenched industry where many manufacturing facilities don’t have the necessary infrastructure to perform AI-powered QA, but it’s an industry that’s changing.
“This industry is tough! This is one of the reasons why there are so few tech companies operating here. I feel like I don’t,” Loureiro explains. “If ever there was a time to solve big problems, it’s now!”