First Leaf Capital is an investment and venture capital firm based in Champaign, Illinois. We pursue a wide range of investment opportunities in Central Illinois and the Midwest. We do early-stage investments in startup companies, loans to new or established business owners, and acquisitions of entire businesses.

We have the 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, no fees, credible introductions to our favorite VC’s, 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. More on Mark’s site.

Tasha Dennehy joins the team as Venture Analyst, with a background in finance and accounting. 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.


FM Bank to be Acquired by Merchants Bancorp

Farmers-Merchants National Bank announced this week it will be acquired by Merchants Bancorp (Nasdaq: MBIN), subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. As a shareholder and director of FMNB since 2012, I’ve learned a lot about banking, bonds, credit, and compliance. I enjoyed relationships with bank president Tom McCabe and the rest of the board. I’m …

First Leaf Capital at InvestMidwest 2018

First Leaf Capital Managing Partner Mark Aardsma will be returning to the #InvestMidwest Venture Capital Forum in Kansas City MO, on March 28th and 29th. We’re looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting promising startups from our part of the country!