As an investment firm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, we invest capital in startup companies, make loans to small business owners, and do micro-private-equity transactions.

We are backed by capital from the Mark Aardsma family office, and outside capital via our FLC II institutional fund. We have broad flexibility to offer a range of investment structures including convertible notes, venture equity, venture debt, partnership interests, revenue-based financing, bridge notes, term loans, or business lines of credit.

We love hardworking entrepreneurs, products that solve substantive problems, hard-to-imitate advantages, lean market validation, and realistic goals. To the companies we back, we offer quick decisions, simple and fair terms, credible introductions to our rusted network, strategic input from a winning founder, and all the encouragement we can send your way.


Mark Aardsma is founding investor and Managing Partner of First Leaf Capital. He previously founded three startups, and led them to success as CEO. He is an advisor to companies and their leaders, and his investments have consistently outperformed the market by wide margins. In 2016 his book Investing With Purpose was published.

Caroline Biedscheid joins the team as Business Analyst, with a background in math and economics. She analyzes potential investments, and assists with financial modeling, deal execution, legal, and compliance.

Venus Walker handles accounting and administrative functions.

Submit Your Plan

If you are a business owner or entrepreneur seeking funding, you’re welcome to contact us at office@firstleafcapital.com. Feel free to attach existing pitch materials, if you have them, or simply send us a general message. We’ll reply letting you know our interest, and if applicable, what additional information we need.

If you have a business, private company stake, or other asset for sale, please contact us by phone or email.


We Love Gray Matter Experience

The Gray Matter Experience is an entrepreneurial education and incubator program for high school students across Chicago, IL. Students going through this program launch their own real businesses that impact their local communities. They learn business concepts and receive mentoring. First Leaf Capital has proudly partnered with the Gray Matter Experience to sponsor one of …

Chicago Blend

We believe supporting diversity is the right thing to do, and that diverse teams are also better-performing teams. We are aware of the huge need to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within technology startups and the venture capital industry. Chicago Blend is a relatively new organization in the Chicago area focused on these goals in …