Hopscotch Success Continues

We are pleased to report that Hopscotch Bakery, Inc has fully repaid the expansion financing provided by First Leaf Capital. This financing helped enable Hopscotch owner and chef Kaya Tate to expand her business into a dedicated building housing both retail cafe and commercial bakery kitchen.

Since the beginning we’ve been impressed by the smart and diligent work of Kaya and her team as they built this business and made it so successful. Their ability to payoff this financing 8 years ahead of schedule is just one sign of their success. This business created a handful of local jobs, renovated and re-purposed a vacant building in a residential neighborhood, and has become a beloved community gathering place. Congrats Hopscotch!

Mark Aardsma Chosen as a Finalist for Entrepreneurial Advocacy Award

Each year, the Innovation Celebration provides recognition to individuals and organizations that contribute to the startup ecosystem in Central Illinois.

For the 2019 celebration, the finalists for the Paul Magelli Entrepreneurial Advocacy Award included First Leaf Capital Managing Partner Mark Aardsma, as well as Edwin Moore, and Roland Garton. This award is for an individual that actively engages, encourages, coaches and mentors entrepreneurs in the community, and provides extensive support to help them achieve success.

Congrats to Roland Garton who received the award. Mark is thankful for this recognition as a finalist for this award that so closely matches the passion that drives his work with entrepreneurs.

First Leaf Capital Forms Institutional Fund

To date, First Leaf Capital has been solely backed by funding from the Mark & Jenn Aardsma family office. We are excited to announce that we are bringing outside capital into our firm to increase the scale and impact of our investments.

We have launched First Leaf Capital Fund II, an institutional-backed fund. The fund’s capital raise is fully committed, and the fund is closed to new investors. We will begin making investments from the fund right away.

We will continue the same local, early-stage, simple, fair, and flexibly-structured investment program we have been following. (Ok not quite as simple as before, but we will do our best.) We look forward to continuing to search for and support the most promising entrepreneurs in Champaign-Urbana and beyond.

FM Bank Aquisition Completed by Merchants Bancorp

Merchants Bank of Indiana (Nasdaq: MBIN) completed their acquisition of Farmers-Merchants National Bank on October 1, 2018. Mark Aardsma of First Leaf Capital was an investor in and board member of the bank prior to this acquisition. We are very pleased with this outcome, and we congratulate all who helped bring this deal together.

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 pleased that we as a management and board were proactive and successful in pursuing a strategic plan that brought an outstanding return for shareholders, no loss of jobs for employees of the bank, and continuity of banking services for the communities we serve.

Congratulations team on many years of faithful service leading up to this milestone achievement.

We’re Hiring: Business & Investment Analyst

We’re looking for one analytical thinker to join our mini-headquarters team. The mission of this team is to find, analyze, and make investments in public and private businesses, including startup companies locally and throughout the midwest. We also work to increase the success of businesses we own all or part of by providing strategic input, timely capital infusions, and connections to our network of resources.

As the analyst on our team you’ll screen potential investments, gather and analyze information about them, develop theories and models about factors that will influence their failure or success, and participate closely in decisions about them. You’ll also get to go beyond abstract analysis, and look at real-world data in our business holdings to find opportunities for management to improve their strategies and results.

We’re a small team, so you’ll get a chance to apply your skills to the variety of projects we are working on, some outside the scope of typical analyst work.

You’ll need strong logical and mathematical reasoning skills. You’ll need a propensity to absorb volumes of information, distill the important parts, creatively generate theories about the key factors, and put those into spreadsheet models that clarify the situation and provide predictive, actionable insight. You don’t need prior experience in the financial industry.

Paid time off.
Flexible work schedule and the option to work remotely some days.
A stipend for health insurance in lieu of a group insurance plan.

We celebrate diversity and we are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We encourage all interested candidates to apply.

[Thank you to the 100+ candidates who applied for this position. As of May 1, 2018 we have filled the position.]


ATS Rentals Acquired By Lensrentals.com

I am excited to announce that ATS Rentals has been acquired by Lensrentals.

I started ATS Rentals to make gear rentals easy, affordable, and available to everyone. I couldn’t be more pleased to announce this sale to Lensrentals, an industry leader who shares those values.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Lensrentals will absorb the customers and operations from ATS Rentals into their Memphis facility. The ATS Rentals facility in Piper City, IL will close following a transition period.

I am deeply grateful to the many thousands of customers who made ATS Rentals a success. I am even more grateful to the staff and managers at ATS Rentals who did hard work, skilled work, and kind work — dedicating themselves to taking care of every customer.

A New Home for Hopscotch

Local pastry chef Kaya Tate is taking her successful business, Hopscotch Bakery, to the next level. She’s rehab’ing a building at 802 W John St., in Champaign, IL to house her new bakery and cafe. We’re impressed by Kaya’s business results and thrilled that she chose First Leaf Capital to provide financing for this expansion.

This video describes the expansion project