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 trusted network, strategic input from a winning founder, and all the encouragement we can send your way.


Mark Aardsma is the 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.

Venus Walker handles bookkeeping and administrative functions.

Lori DeLuca provides accounting and audit support for the fund

Submit Your Plan

If you are a business owner or entrepreneur seeking funding, take a look at our investment criteria, and contact us at office@firstleafcapital.com. Feel free to attach existing pitch materials, if you have them. 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.


First Leaf Capital Invests in Eclipse Orthopaedics

Eclipse Orthopaedics is developing a handheld x-ray-guided orthopaedic drill to simplify a surgical procedure that is currently difficult for surgeons who are not trauma specialists. The device also offers lower x-ray radiation exposure for the surgical team and eliminates reliance on a C-arm and radiological technician. Since getting to know David I am confident he …

First Leaf Capital Invests in DAtAnchor

DAtAnchor provides a unique, easy-to-use data security system that allows data to be stored anywhere in encrypted form, while the data owner retains real-time, dynamic control over who can access that data under what conditions. Organizations using DAtAnchor can more easily comply with cybersecurity regulations, and protect their data from breaches, ransomware/doxware, and internal misuse.

When I first heard about what DAtAnchor does, I thought “that’s unique, and useful”. After a bunch of phone calls with CEO Emre and his team, I still think so. Along the way I came to really like this group of technologists and marketers. I’m excited to be on board.