I think my learning is three-fold.
First, it depends on the team. Most of the SaaS unicorns have been built on at least some venture capital … but a number haven’t. Atlassian ($5b market cap), Qualtrics (private unicorn), etc. have gotten there without it.
The real question is How Lean Can You Be.
Second, most bootstrapped SaaS companies grow slower in the earlier days without capital to boost them to Initial Traction and Scale. Atlassian and Qualtrics took an extra 3–4 years to get to Initial Traction and Scale vs. some of their peers.
Third, once any SaaS company hits $8-$10m in ARR … they all grow at the same rate.
So if you can suck it up, and somehow, with a super-lean team, get to $10m ARR … then that’s another great way to get there. Especially in a less competitive space, where a little extra time getting there isn’t the end of the world.