First Leaf Capital Investment Criteria

We are interested in a broad range of industries and types of startups. Fundamentally, we like businesses that make economic sense. Those can be found in many corners of the startup ecosystem and business community.

We like:

  • Early stage startups, first-money-in up to Series A.
  • Businesses based in Central Illinois and the Midwest.
  • Hard-to-imitate technology, including lab-originated and/or IP-protected hardware, chemistry, and other tangible inventions.
  • SaaS businesses with significant advantages over their competitors.
  • Businesses that make the world a better place in big or small ways. Could be practical improvements or life-saving technologies.
  • Founders/CEO’s who relentlessly lean into reality and tell themselves and us the truth about the good, bad, and ugly.

Here are a few things we typically don’t invest in:

  • Round sizes greater than $5M at the time of our initial investment.
  • Drug development or other therapeutic interventions for use in humans. (Medical device and healthcare IT are ok.)
  • Crypto. (We never did.)
  • Cannabis.
  • Businesses headquartered on the West Coast, or outside the U.S.
  • Consumer-facing retail/ad tech such as promotional apps. (Back-end Ad Tech is ok.)
  • Businesses that harm their customers such as providers of gambling or tobacco products.