Background and Context
Smartex was founded in Portugal in 2018 by Antonio Rocha, Gilberto Loureiro, and Paulo Ribeiro to reduce waste in the textile industry and improve its climate impact. The company develops hardware and software that is deployed in textile factories to give factories, machines, workers, and fashion brands full visibility into their production. This allows for the tracking of materials and processes, and eventually a clean, sustainable, and transparent supply chain for the next generation of the world’s garments.
Q&A With the Founders
Why did you find Smartex AI?
We initially encountered a significant issue with inefficient quality control and believed we could fix it. Gilberto, in his past as a textile worker and fabric inspector, observed entire days of production being discarded due to quality problems. This led us to realize that there had to be a better solution and that technology could provide it. Subsequently, we acknowledged a pressing need for the textile industry to digitize and modernize itself, while simultaneously enhancing its sustainability, productivity, and profitability.
How did HAX progress your startup?
HAX was one of the first outside our circle of friends, family, and initial partners to believe in us. Their support gave us a big morale boost, and they were also super helpful and hands-on in building the technology side-by-side with us in Shenzhen. We were impressed by the tech foundations there and learned a lot – not only about assembling a business and company culture, but also about engineering and supply chain challenges.
Even today, three years after our first contact with HAX, the team is always ready to help. SOSV has assisted us in all fundraising processes, finding new clients and partners, and supporting us in engineering and supply chain challenges.
HAX was one of the first outside our circle of friends, family, and initial partners to believe in us.
How did your recent Series A come together? What were other investors excited about?
Our investors are always excited about the untapped potential of this industry, especially given its quick market adoption. Additionally, the unit economics of the business make it very attractive.
During a visit to our offices in Porto, we met Tony Fadell through SOSV. He immediately recognized the potential of deploying hardware within this massive $3 trillion industry. A few weeks later, we received a term sheet from Tony Fadell’s Build Collective fund, which co-led the round with Lightspeed Ventures. We were also fortunate to bring on board leading fashion brands and other industry/textile players.
How are you thinking about your climate impact?
This is an essential element of our mission which keeps us striving every day for greatness. By having a relevant and positive impact on the world, we can contribute not only to the economy but also to the environment.
The textile industry is one of the largest in the world and the third most polluting industry. Unfortunately, it has barely been touched by modern technology and there are very few tech companies working in textiles. This poses additional challenges for us, as we need to build the full stack of technologies to equip factories. However, once done correctly, we can save massive amounts of resources such as water, chemicals, cotton, electricity, and CO2.
What is the future of Smartex AI?
Our mission is to create the “Modern Textile Factory” that is fully automated, efficient, traceable, and waste-free.
In the future, consumers will be able to see where their clothes come from, and the environmental impact of their products and factories will be both super efficient and clean. Technology will serve humanity at all levels, and manufacturing will not be an exception. We are working to be a fundamental part of that future.