I’m Mark Aardsma. As an entrepreneur I launched three successful companies and led two of them to the multi-million-dollar level. Occasionally I write, speak, and coach others who launch and lead. Now my primary work is as an investor in other businesses.


At age 24 I started a software business in my basement. At 26 I started acoustic panel manufacturer ATS Acoustics.

At 28 I started nationwide lens, video, and projector rental business ATS Rentals. I sold ATS Rentals in 2017.

In 2015 I started a big data for transportation logistics company. It failed.

In 2017 I started First Leaf Capital, an investment company with a venture capital wing.

Learning and Growing

As a young leader with a lot of fears and struggles, the growth of my businesses stretched and challenged me. I knew I was in over my head, so I sought coaching and mentoring from some great people who were further down the path than I was.

I entered a challenging personal growth process that propelled my leadership and my business results. Several years into my obsession with my own growth and development, I discovered my love for that translates to helping others in ways that I was helped.


I greatly enjoy the meritocracy and nerdery of investing. I am also actively seeking business acquisition opportunities, and opportunities to invest in select startups. If you know of or are leading a great opportunity, please contact me.


In my book Investing with Purpose I share my best advice on how you can effectively pursue the life and work you value most. It released March 2016 from Career Press and Brilliance Audio. My articles sometimes appear in business publications as well.


Occasionally I speak at conferences or to local groups on leadership and entrepreneurship. I’m also a guest on radio shows and other media from time to time.

Coaching and Consulting

From 2013 through 2016 I provided business coaching and consulting services to entrepreneurs and other leaders. Since I have shifted my focus, I now only work in those ways with leaders of businesses I own, I am on the board of, or I have an investment in. If you have an interest in learning from my experiences, the best place to start is to read my book.

More About Me

I have a particular interest in how entrepreneurship and human development work in the fields of international economic development and poverty alleviation.

I served on the board of directors of Farmers-Merchants National Bank in Paxton, Illinois for 7 years before the bank was sold in 2018.

In 2015 I got my pilot’s license. I find joy in flying to gatherings and events around the country in my TBM 700 airplane. I’m a passionate advocate for safety in general aviation.

I live with my wife Jenn and our four children in central Illinois. Jenn and I lead Right Here Music, a not-for-profit concert promoter.