Venture-capital group looks to aid more Kern County startups

    JP Lake and David Higdon helped create Kern Venture, a angel fund dedicated to helping out entrepreneurs. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

    A local group is looking to bring in entrepreneurs and help get their startups off the ground.

    Kern Venture is the first angel-investment fund in Kern County.

    Arleana Waller knows the challenges of building a business from the ground up. Waller, who founded ShePOWER, a girls' leadership academy, went looking for investors, but found options in Kern County were limited.

    It's a problem many startups face in the beginning, and one that Kern Venture Group seeks to ease.

    The group, started by J.P. Lake and David Higdon, will be holding its first meeting to review nearly 40 businesses and decide which ones to invest in.

    Their hope is that business success will breed encourage more interest from entrepreneurs, bringing them to Kern County.

    Kyle Shiloh, who started Kern County's Basketball Universe Academy nine years ago, grew the academy steadily over time to coach more than 800 underserved youth in the community. He thinks new businesses funded by Kern Venture will likely grow much faster.

    Shiloh and Waller are teaming up on a new business project – to open a 67,000-square-foot sports-and-recreation center in Bakersfield by 2020. As they advance their work to support young Bakersfield leaders, they're optimistic Kern Venture would do the same for entrepreneurs like them.

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