David B. Lerner

Dave Lerner, 3x Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Host of Venture Studio
Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Director of Columbia University Venture Lab, Blogger, Community Organizer, Golfer-in-Exile.

Caveat Mentor: Armchair vs. Real-World Advisors

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This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture and Philosophy.

In previous posts I have touched on the importance of first-time entrepreneurs having an experienced mentor at their side.  I'd like to elaborate a bit on what qualities I believe this person should and should not have. Before reading any further though, do watch this hilarious video snippet above from the classic movie Back to School and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Your Mentor should be:

  • An experienced serial entrepreneur with a big network he/she can reach out to on your behalf when the time is right, ie. prospects, customers, partners, investors, potential hires
  • A person who is trustworthy, loyal, respected and well-liked in the entrepreneurial community
  • Someone you greatly respect who is ready to roll-up his/her sleeves and really help you

Your Mentor should NOT be:

  • Someone who has never been an entrepreneur but likes to tell people what to do
  • A bureaucrat, a service provider to you or a broker-dealer
  • A person with no relevant expertise or real-world experience with start-ups
  • A substitute for hard work and for getting your product, first customers and partners in place


For the next post in this Series, click here.

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