Every coworking space, every incubator, every accelerator and every startup conference or events boasts of top notch mentors that they will help entrepreneurs connect with. However, what this in reality ends up being is just a show of names with little or no value added to the entrepreneurs. None of the top notch mentors who just have their names in the list but are not getting anything out of it can afford to give the time that’s really required to understand a startup in detail and give real mentoring. It usually ends up being a 5-10 mins interaction with others waiting in line to talk to the “mentor” and the entrepreneur getting top of the mind, off the cuff advise or “mentoring”.
If any entrepreneur takes critical decisions for their startup just based on the feedback from 5-10 mins of interaction with a “just met for first time” mentor, then they seriously need to get their brains checked! Mentoring is a long term process and just like a mentor needs to spend time with the mentee to understand their business and frame of mind, same way the mentee needs to spend time with mentor to understand their experience and expertise.
Both the mentor and the mentee need to decide what value they can actually add to each other. Are they suited for each other? Does the mentor have the required experience and expertise to actually mentor the startup? Or does the entrepreneur do enough homework before coming to the mentor in a prepared manner rather than running to mentor for each and every idea that pops up in their mind? So checking if mentor or mentee has a match is very important to avoid disappointment later on. End of the day it boils down to your doing research & reference check about someone and your judgement of people – both ways. In my view when it comes specifically mentorship related to entrepreneurship, one basic fact check is if the mentor themselves have ever done any startup or new business on their own themselves.
Then comes their depth of experience and knowledge. Advice is cheap and easily dispensable… It’s the advice taker who has to decide if it’s worth taking or not. And as they say God gave us two ears so that if someone gives us BS, then we can listen from one and expel from the other!! On the other hand its an insult to the mentor who has agreed to give their time to an entrepreneur who has not even done basic research on what he wants to accomplish.

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