jp lake headshot


A local investment fund has received eight business proposals from early-stage companies based in Kern, plus another five from California businesses outside the county, as it works to put together an initial pool of capital to begin doling out startup capital.

Co-founder John-Paul "JP" Lake said Tuesday that Kern Venture Group, the fund now gearing up for its first round of investments, has raised $1.5 million so far.

The group now has 14 partners, he said. It will need to bring in another 15 to 20 partners, depending on the amount investors pledge, to reach the $2 million it considers the minimum necessary to begin making disbursements, he said. The fund expects to cap its initial pool at $4 million.

"It does take time but we’re making a little bit of progress,” said Lake, who manages real estate for his family's company, Rain for Rent.

The businesses that have applied for funding work in sectors including aerospace and defense, oil and gas, water monitoring technology, agriculture, consumer food products and retail, Lake said.

Investment funds have become a primary conduit of financing for early-stage companies known as startups. Such groups are seen as vital to supporting entrepreneurial communities such as those thriving in the Bay Area and other areas known for their technological focus.

As a micro-venture-capital, or "angel" fund, based in Bakersfield, Kern Venture Group is believed to be the first of its kind in the county.

Depending on how much money it raises, Kern Venture Group plans to select up to 15 companies to receive capital during this, its first year of investments. Businesses making the cut will receive between $50,000 and $200,000, according to the fund's website, It says probably no more than 10 percent of the fund's total will go to an individual company.

Candidate businesses will typically be those seeking their first round of formal financing, the website states.

"They will typically be at the start-up stage or one step beyond start-up with a working product prototype, and will already have founder and/or 'friends and family' money invested in the company," it says.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

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