What is a Mentor?

There are many types of mentors, from those that form relationships with young boys and girls to executives of large companies that guide promising new managers. The types of mentors this thesis is concerned about are experienced entrepreneurs "who actively contribute time, energy, and wisdom to startups" (Feld, 42). These mentors usually play an important role within their respective startup community (Feld, 42).

Mentors are different from advisors in their relationship with the startup. Even though an advisor and a mentor may have similar experiences, an advisor "has an economic relationship with the company he is advising" (Feld, 42). This difference between advisor and mentor stems from their motivation to contribute their experiences to the startup. The mentor's rewards from putting in time and energy is not a clear return on investment, but is a return on involvement. A return on involvement, the new ROI, is another way of saying that you're willing to "give before you get." Both Startup Communites by Brad Feld and The Rainforest by Hwang and Horowitt address the same cultural norm about entrepreneurs using different verbage. This norm, which extends to entrepreneurial mentors, is the willingness to give some of your time, energy, or wisdom to a startup or the community without having a clear return on your investment.

An infographic quantifying the relationship between a mentor and entrepreneur can be seen here.

Source: Startup Communities by Brad Feld

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