Can you tell us who is Reinaldo and a little bit about your background?
My academic background is in Industrial Engineering and Management. After graduating, I went to work at the biggest Portuguese fashion retailer, Sonae. There, I worked on the internationalisation of Sonae’s brands focusing on the supply chain, business modelling, contract signing, etc. Then I went to Angola to work for a construction company. It was a completely different industry, but still, it gave me solid skills in management, since, as a manager, I touched every single department within the company. I recently came back to Portugal, roughly one year and a half ago. And I had this epiphany when my mother in law gave me a great pair of socks, which she had bought from a textile manufacturer. I immediately realised that there was this possibility that most people did not consider: buying high-quality items straight from textile manufacturers. So, I gathered a team. First, it was Francisco, Miguel and I, the founders. When we approached the textile manufacturers, we realised there was a lot of unused access textile fabrics, and we could make something out of it while preventing it from ending up in a landfill.
What is the background of the other founders?
Francisco has a solid background in McKinsey. He worked there for more than ten years. Now, he is the CEO of Mo, the most prominent Portuguese fashion retailer. Miguel has been developing websites for the past 13/14 years. He has a solid background in e-commerce platforms development.
From left to right: Guilherme Guerra, co-founder and CEO of RNTERS, and Miguel Pinto, co-founder and CTO of Springkode, at the launch event of Maze X, in May 2019 at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
What is Springkode, and where did the name come from?
We want Springkode to be a revolution. We want it to represent a new spring, something new that blossoms, that turns everything upside down. We also envisioned a marketplace, which adds a technological side to it, so we decided to add ‘kode’. Springkode is a marketplace that connects conscious consumers to the best textile manufacturers to grant access to high-quality garments produced with unused textile fabrics.
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Everyone is much worried about oil, but you should not disregard fashion. There’s a lot of waste in the fashion supply chain, and it is acceptable, it is a standard within the industry, to waste 30 to 40% of textiles during the cutting process, for instance. Moreover, we use a tremendous amount of resources, including water, in each garment we wear. It takes roughly 2700 litres of water to produce a good quality cotton shirt. Just imagine that.
The only thing sustainable is what is already in your wardrobe. The most sustainable approach to this problem is to use our existing clothes as much as we can.
Why did you apply to Maze X?
We applied to Maze X because it made absolute sense for us to do so. Maze X is much aligned with our values, and with what we are doing and feeling. At this stage, we needed all the help we can get, and Maze X had a lot to add to our project in terms of guidance and mentorship.
Reinaldo Moreira, co-founder and CEO of Springkode, at the launch event of Maze X,
in May 2019 at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
What were the three challenges you wanted to tackle throughout Maze X?
The first challenge was branding. Nowadays, we are all competing for attention. You need to grasp and be very well polished in terms of branding for people to understand you within a fraction of a second.
We also needed to work in our storytelling. We have a lot of great content from our partners, the ones who are producing and selling their designs via Springkode. We had not been able to leverage on that, and we wanted to do it in a structured manner.
Finally, being a B2C, one major challenge is always adapting to consumers’ needs. It is tough because thousands of brands are constantly approaching consumers. We are creating an unusual opportunity for consumers to go straight to the factory. We want to tap into people who would relate to the idea. We need to find them. We need to talk to them. We need to educate them a little bit, but we still need to sell and promote our products. It is tricky, but it is a good challenge, and it is fun. We’re learning our way. Being a startup is all about learning your way through and doing something new.
Which startup surprised you the most in the last year?
I’m kind of an outsider in the startup world, to be honest, I don’t follow that many startups. The ones I have been following more closely are HUUB, a logistics startup based in Porto and, also, Infraspeak, which is a startup that has been developing a maintenance application for hotels and hospitals.
Where do you find wisdom?
I find wisdom in my grandfather and my mother. They are my role models for the way I behave, the way I am and the way I conduct myself in business. Business questions are human questions, mostly. Most of the times, it is not a matter of numbers, it is a matter of being true to a strategy, being true to a way of thinking and being true to our values. Most of the times, it all comes down to mundane issues. From my short professional experience, I don’t think there are any wrongs or rights when you’re doing things in a values-oriented way. It is your way. The way you envision the world, the way you are and the way you act.
The interview took place on the 2nd of July at Casa do Impacto. The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Maze X was conceived and initiated by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and MAZE, with the law firm PLMJ joining as a founding corporate member and BNP Paribas, Hospital da Luz Learning Health, Casa do Impacto as partners.