We’ve shut down Chicisimo.
In December 2019, we stopped fighting as a standalone company and started seeking an acquirer . The response we received was overwhelming but we were not successful.
This post-mortem is my way of saying thanks to so many people who helped us along the way. It also helps María and I close a chapter before we start the next one.
Here’s what happened.
What we built: A Virtual Closet app, on top of a learning model
We’ve built a virtual closet app that allows women to easily digitize most of their clothes in less than 2 minutes. Then, the closet tells you how to combine your clothes: (i) it gives outfit suggestions, and (ii) it shows how other real women wear your same clothes. We had 5M installs, ~95% of them non-paid, good retention .
This is built on top of a learning model that automatically classifies clothes and understands people’s taste, by learning from users’ closet & outfit data, their queries and interactions. The result is a taste graph automating input classification & the delivery of suggestions. You can read about our tech assets at the end of this post .
While we were building the core of our tech, I failed at finding a successful business model. We tried different forms of monetization, mostly affiliation and subscription. I spoke with most fashion apps out there, and all had the same problem. And I ignored the second hand market, which turned out to be the good one.
The M&A process
During Q4 2019 and Q1 2020, we had quality conversations with many tech players. We spoke with the product, tech and M&A teams with specific interest in Chicisimo. We knew some of those players from long.
However, I didn’t find an acquirer. Some tech players had started building similar learning models not long ago, others thought they could build the models themselves… I simply failed at generating excitement and urgency.
(i) There was a desire to hire the team because we built a fantastic team , but not to acquire the company;
(ii) There was a strong interest in our learning model, but the specifics of how we delivered the experience was irrelevant to most;
and (iii) There are several players considering building digital closets or automated style assistants. But not in the short term.
Failing is ok. Failing is not OK
When María and I started the company, we knew the enormous risk we were taking with our approach. We all knew that we could fail, and that was ok.
But failing is not ok. It is extremely hard. It comes slow and then super fast. Failing is personal. It comes with lots of nights without sleep and dealing with your physco is hard.
Sadly, failing affects other people and generates stress in those who most care about you.
A support network
Luckily, we have a strong support network who takes care of us. Investors, teammates, fellow entrepreneurs, friends and family. This network allowed us to never feel alone and to connect with almost anyone we’ve needed. And to share problems-questions-opportunities with fellow entrepreneurs who’ve gone thru similar situations.
One advice I’d give to entrepreneurs: surround yourself with people who will be well-balanced in the hard times, and connect with other entrepreneurs who’ll understand what you are going thru.
We’ve been lucky to have Iñaki Arrola with us, always setting an example. We’ve loved working with a fantastic team (Pedro, Juan, Saul, Mireia, Miguel, Goi) who was extremely successful at building what they were asked to build. Thanks also to Diego, Rafa, Álvaro, Micah and to so many others. María and I dreamed of giving you a different outcome, but it hasn’t been possible.
And to my cofounder María… sorry for the hard times, thank you for not giving up. We are going to make it.
We are happy to help others
Having received so much help, we’d love to help others. We like consumer product teams (product+design+engineering) who ship fast, very focused iterations impacting specific growth levers, again and again and again. If you think we can help, ping me.
What is next?
2020 couldn’t have been more intense:
- While all the above was happening with Chicisimo, CRIF acquired 100% of Strands, the company that a few of us started in 2004. At Strands, we started by logging people’s online music behaviour and in 2007 we pivoted to logging people’s credit card payments. With that pivot, we built a business;
- I had a mountain accident in June. The recovery from this accident gave me the motivation to recover physically asap, which has helped me recover from Chicisimo ending;
- As a result, July and September have been calm for us, and María and I have been able to rest. We feel strong, happy and hyper active. And we are actually very excited about what comes next! 🚀🚀🚀
A few links
 Read our communication on we had stopped fighting as a standalone company and started seeking an acquirer. Hacker News discussion here;
 A while back, we shared how we grew to 4M women with our vertical ML approach;
 Read about our tech assets;
 Learn about the team.