Case study

Startup integration

Integrating an Acquired Startup Mailchimp Creative Assistant

Full integration of an acquired startup in under 12 months.

The Tensure team was able to get Creative Assistant to Mailchimp customers by continuously delivering value in incremental pieces.


Scaling from thousands of users to millions of users

In 2018, Mailchimp’s acquired Sawa, an automated graphic design tool. They needed to integrate the Sawa product into their ecosystem and get these new features to their customers quickly. But startup integration is notoriously difficult and complex, and Mailchimp didn’t have a dedicated team of people ready to do the difficult work of integration. Also, the Sawa team was still very small, since as a startup they had been running hard on a low budget for years.

Full integration of an acquired startup a in under 12 months.


Bridging the gap between teams

Sawa had a user base of thousands of users and Mailchimp has a user base of millions, so we needed to upgrade Sawa’s systems from a startup infrastructure to an enterprise infrastructure.

The Tensure team was able to get Creative Assistant to Mailchimp customers by continuously delivering value in incremental pieces. With our first release, we were able to help the team conduct user research, integrate the Sawa microservices into the Mailchimp monolith, and implement the features necessary for a Mailchimp customer to generate on-brand content for their emails.

We accomplished this by:

  • Moving a VM-based, AWS-hosted application over to Google Cloud and Managed Services
  • Leveraging cloud functions, moving heavy front end JavaScript-based processing to serverless functions
  • Upgrading the database by moving it from an unmanaged MySQL instance to a managed Cloud Spanner instance
  • Migrating from a standalone application server hosted in a VM to an App Engine instance

Most importantly we were able to make these changes and deliver value to Mailchimp’s users in under 12 months.


Taking the guesswork out of startup integration

In transforming Sawa’s core technology into the current fully-featured Creative Assistant tool inside the Mailchimp platform, The Tensure team provided nearly end-to-end development by bringing in Product Leadership, Technical Product Management, Architecture Oversight, Full-Stack Development, UX/UI, and user research.


  • Creative Assistant integration with other core Mailchimp products (including the core email editor)
  • Feature parity (and beyond) with the original startup within the Mailchimp platform
  • Scaled both the Creative Assistant team and product to handle massively increased usage
  • Teams across Mailchimp are now able to incorporate the Creative Assistant and related tools into their features and products

"After working with Tensure engineers for nearly two years, I can confidently say they have an incredible work ethic. They are dedicated to solving the problem for our customers, and they simply don’t give up until they find the best solution."

- Michelle Q, Senior Product Manager

Do what makes you great.
We’ll handle the rest.

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