They do, and they shouldn’t.

  • They look down on them because they aren’t collecting the Funding Trophies. (We’re all impressed by a funding round. We can’t help it.)
  • They look down on them because they assume they are growing more slowly. Which often is true in the early days.
  • They look down on them because everyone is insecure and has imposter syndrome and saying you are backed by a top VC firm does brand you and help you. You do have that going for you.

And then, a few years go by, and things normalize. Rough-and-tough, bootstrapped SaaS companies grow just as fast at $10m ARR as non-bootstrapped ones.

And then, the ones that bootstrapped or “skipped a round or two” will have the brand equity, the customer cred, and all that that the venture-funded ones do.

Just without all the dilution. Or defer the dilution only until a very late round, like Atlassian or Qualtrics.

There are many ways to the top. But the founders still owning 100% of Mailchimp is one of the sweetest paths of all.

Even if it did take 3–4 years longer.

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