Founder who worked in factories as a teenager raises $24.7M to introduce real-time defect detection in textile industry

Smartex founders
Image credits: Smartex

Portuguese startup Smartex, which develops hardware-enabled, AI-driven software to detect textile defects in real-time, has raised $24.7 million in Series A funding. This follows the company’s $2.9 million Seed round in 2019 co-led by DCVC and Spider Capital.

Who invested in Smartex?

The investment came from H&M Group, DCVC (which invested in Lumafield and Pano AI), EX Capital, SOSV’s HAX, Spider Capital, Momenta Ventures, Bombyx Growth Fund, Faber, and Fashion for Good with which Smartex initiated multiple projects with its partners such as the Kering Group (Gucci, Balenciaga, etc), PVH (Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, etc), Pangaia and others.

Ambitious growth and expansion plans

With the investment, Smartex will expand the business strategically to new geographies, continue to grow the team, and develop product lines to help manufacturers and fashion brands improve control of their production while increasing textile quality and traceability.

Currently, Smartex is present in several markets across Europe, Central Asia, South America, and Africa, and has plans to expand further into Asia in 2023, empowering factories all around the world to produce with less waste.

Gilberto Loureiro, Co-founder and CEO of Smartex, said, “We are privileged to be in a very unique position to add intrinsic value to a giant industry that is fundamental and touches so many lives, fueling our mission to sustainability and profitability of textile factories worldwide. With our technology and talent, we will be able to pioneer a new chapter in the fashion industry and ultimately reduce waste and costs. All efforts are necessary to generate a positive impact as we strive to solve this global challenge and contribute to a more sustainable world.”

Aims to upgrade the textile industry

Smartex was founded by Antonio Rocha (CTO & Co-founder), Gilberto Loureiro (CEO & Co-founder), and Paulo Ribeiro (VP of Engineering & Co-founder) in 2018 in Portugal. Gilberto was born and raised by textile factory workers and worked in factories as a teenager. The three friends founded Smartex to solve problems in the textile Industry and take it to the next level with its AI-based solutions.

The company has a team of 91, including interns and 30% of its team is female. The team is located across 16 nationalities (Portuguese, Indian, Italian, Israeli, American, Canadian, Brazilian, Congolese, German, Turkish, Angolan, French, German, Chinese, British, and Tunisian). Its customers include brands like Tintex Textiles, Familitex, Toraman Tekstil, Ekoten and more.

During a video case study, Mario Jorge Silva, Founder of Tintex Textiles & HATA, said that “Smartex – with its artificial intelligence and tracking processes – is an economically viable solution because it not only saves time but anticipates and helps in the elimination of problems that may arise later on.”

“Our customers are just as engaged as we are with the products we are building,” says Co-founder, CTO, and winner of Web Summit’s 2021 PITCH Competition Antonio Rocha. “In order to create solutions to serve them best, we are always listening and open to their feedback. Together we are working on a new era of high quality, waste-free manufacturing which will lead to improved transparency and traceability across the textile supply chain from yarn to retail.”

Sustainability in the textile industry!

Textile factories don’t have the tools to produce in a clean, transparent, and efficient way and generate massive amounts of waste and other problems. It is reportedly, the third largest pollutant industry, damaging 20% of clean water and responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas.

The textile industry operates on thin margins and has a considerably high defect rate. It is dependent on human vision and manual inspection to detect textile defects. Smartex empowers textile manufacturers to take control of their production line through real-time textile defect detection, data-driven analysis, and alerts.

Smartex’s automated identification process reduces textile waste, CO2 emissions, energy, water, production time, and capital expenditure by automatically shutting down production in order to prevent the waste of materials.

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