It was a moment of truth. In 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1100 people, injuring thousands of others and making headlines as one of the deadliest industrial disasters in history. Found in the rubble alongside bodies were tags and labels identifying well-known top clothing manufacturers. The companies generally claimed, believably, that they’d had no idea the workers had been made to work under such dangerous conditions. The accident—incongruous, inhumane, inciting disgust—shook the industry to its core.
What wasn’t so obvious: The solution.
Factory inspection and audit software provider Inspectorio, at the time, was just a twinkle in the Moncayo Castillo brothers’ eyes. Carlos, Luis and Fernando, Ecuadorian-born businessmen, had distinguished themselves in other areas, from their prestigious university educations to serial entrepreneurial track records founding companies internationally. They were well aware the supply chain issues they’d faced, however challenging and expensive, were minor compared to Rana Plaza’s human tragedy. But they believed the issues were all connected.
The inspections industry was rife with corruption and incompetence. The Moncayo Castillos had taken a step to address the problem when they’d brought inspections, which are often performed by third-party agencies, in house at Asiam, the responsible sourcing agency they co-founded in 2004. That was in 2011. The solution had been a success to the point that it led to a new Asiam division, one focused on performing inspections for other companies as well. Then one of those companies complained about an order from a manufacturer, in 2015.
The brothers found themselves unable to adequately answer this customer’s questions about why an inspection had led to subpar product quality. “The client said, ‘I need you to prove to me how your employees are performing inspections,” recalls Fernando. “But the fact is we didn’t have a tool where we could see, ‘This is the exact moment where the inspector was in this place. This is how many minutes, how many seconds they spent.’” Transparency and accountability were lacking.
It was an industry wide problem, the brothers knew. Even Asiam had been using nothing more than digital cameras, pens and paper to record information in factories and other facilities. They decided to change things for everyone—or at least give them the option to do better. The Castillo Moncayos created the Inspectorio platform initially as a simple app. Today, it’s a sophisticated software-as-a-service product used by companies including Target and Crocs to help with everything from quality control and production efficiency to meeting environmental rule standards. Instead of having information stored in separate silos by factories, suppliers, retailers, brands and inspectors, it’s all now, via the cloud, in one place. Inspectorio’s Machine Learning and AI capabilities offer analysis of the data that helps customers increase efficiency, reduce costs, and optimize eco-consciousness.
Inspectorio didn’t reach such heights on its own. The Moncayo Castillos took advantage of mentorship from Boulder-based TechStars, their VC-investors, and Apple along the way. But their recent participation in the SAP.iO Foundries cohort focused on consumer and retail sustainability was transformative.
“When we talk about brands and retailers it’s not a quality issue alone anymore that we need to be concerned with,” says Fernando. “We need to talk about responsible sourcing, and that requires companies to be compliant on the social side, the environmental side, and others. So we wanted to improve on sustainability, and SAP was already leading the way.” The brothers liked its commitment to issues like zero waste and decarbonization within its own ranks, but also the way it helps clients achieve such goals via access to tools from startups that take part in its accelerator. Such companies are featured in the SAP store.
Today SAP and Inspectorio are technically integrated, enabling clients to, among other things, provide safe worker conditions, including building safety, in factories globally. Fernando speaks proudly of Inspectorio’s achievements but candidly of the need to do better. Even today over 70% of inspections for manufacturers are performed via manual processes. “I believe that right now if you don’t want to implement Inspectorio in your company it’s either because you’re too old to confront technology, or you have something to hide.”
For more on SAP’s sustainability solutions and software, visit their portfolio here.
Learn more about how startups are key to SAP’s sustainable enterprise vision here.