In a few days, the startup got an investment by two international business angels and the award “Welfare che impresa!” by Accenture Italian Foundation
Turin, September 16, 2022
Re4Circular is the new project by Atelier Riforma, the innovative social startup with the mission of reducing the environmental impact of the fashion industry through the circular economy. From 2021 the startup has taken a more technological direction, aimed at making the business (and so its positive impact) more scalable.
The valorization of textile waste as a circular resource is still a great challenge today, therefore most of it ends up in landfills (especially in developing countries). Re4Circular technology is aimed at helping the stakeholders of the supply chain to direct each discarded garment towards the best way of recovery (eg reuse, recycling, upcycling, etc.). It is a digital marketplace platform that matches the B2B supply and demand for used clothing, connected to an Artificial Intelligence technology to extract, from the image of the garment, all the useful data for its recovery.
To carry out this ambitious new project, Ferrero and Secondo have dedicated themselves in the last year to the search for investments (in Italy), addressing in particular to so-called “impact” investors, that is, interested in the environmental and social implications of their investment.
“Fundraising in the early-stage phase is one of the key activities of a startup, but it is also one of the most difficult, especially for first-time startuppers. The last year was extremely challenging for us, but we did our best because we deeply believe in the usefulness of our project”. Said Elena, one of the co-founders.
In February 2022 Elena and Sara – while they were attending the Startupbootcamp FashionTech acceleration program – come into contact with Pietro Bonanno and Serra Falk Goldman, business angels originally from San Francisco and settled in Italy for a few years, who were doing an in-depth scouting among the Italian startups.
Bonanno and Falk Goldman are among the founders of the very recent “The 20 fund”, a venture capital firm committed to gender parity.
The fund’s aim is to invest in Italian, female-run, early-stage startups, with a strong vocation for sustainability.
Thus began a very in-depth due diligence (lasting more than 5 months) in which the fund analyzed the economic potential of Re4Circular, its technical feasibility, its positive impact and above all the quality and commitment of the team.
On 12th September Bonanno and Falk Goldman finalized the investment in Atelier Riforma, as private individuals. Objective: to bring the project to a sufficient maturity to attract an even more substantial investment from the fund in the coming months.
“We are continually impressed by the co-founders, Elena Ferrero and Sara Secondo. Their intelligence, dedication and perseverance will contribute to the success of Atelier Riforma and dramatically reduce waste in the fashion industry. No doubt they and Atelier Riforma will have a positive impact on the environment.” said Serra Falk Goldman.
On September 15th another milestone is achieved: Re4Circular is among the 4 winning projects of “Welfare che Impresa!”.
This national competition, promoted by Accenture Italian Foundation, Bracco Foundation, Intesa Sanpaolo, Snam Foundation and many others, is aimed at awarding “projects capable of combining economy and society, to promote a new vision of development”.
The funds from the investment and the prize will be used to implement the automatic cataloging technology for clothes, based on Artificial Intelligence, thanks to the collaboration with three data scientist (who had been involved in developing the proof of concept last spring). The AI algorithm will then be integrated into the marketplace platform, developed in collaboration with the company Huulke. Part of the funds will also be used to file the definitive patent of the technology (of which the trademark has already been filed) and to expand the team. Throughout the autumn, the team (in collaboration with some cooperatives that have already joined as first users) will test the prototype and acque the first metrics on the marketplace.