The cofounder is your thesis advisor. There are many points with a pretty decent correlation to life in grad school, at least for physics, and my datum.
I’ve been surprised again and again by just how much more important persistence is than raw intelligence.
Not that physics grad school is populated with dummies or anything, but persistence is mandatory.
I’m continually surprised by how long everything can take. Assuming your product doesn’t experience the explosive growth that very few products do, everything from development to dealmaking (especially dealmaking) seems to take 2-3x longer than I always imagine.
Ask a grad student how long until the get their degree, and you’ll probably get an answer like, “I just need to get this one bit of apparatus to work, get a little data, and then it’s thesis-writing time. I’ll be done in a year.” A year later, you will probably get the same response.
When I was in school, we filed a plan of what coursework we would be doing for our degree, which was reviewed and approved by your thesis committee. It had to include a certain number of research credits, which basically amounted to one year of full-time research. A friend of mine asked, “What happens if I finish sooner than that?” which elicited a round of laughter from his advisors. “We’ll deal with that if it happens.” He had done two years of classes at that point, and was there for 5 more years.