First Ascent Ventures was founded in 2015 and invests in emerging technology companies that are building the next generation of disruptive, enterprise B2B software that leverages the cloud, big data, analytics, mobility, AI and machine learning. The founding partners of the Fund Richard Black and Tony van Marken have been involved with over 35 technology companies as founders, operating executives, advisors and investors with a track record of successful growth and premium returns.
First Ascent Ventures is looking for outstanding, committed entrepreneurs and management teams who seek not just financial backing, but the experience and expertise of successful financial and operating executives who can create a catalyst for growth and ultimately a successful exit for all stakeholders.
The story behind the name
In mountaineering, a first ascent is the first successful, documented summit of a mountain by an unclimbed route. First ascents are notable because they entail genuine exploration, with greater risks, challenges and recognition than climbing a route pioneered by others. This is not dissimilar to the challenges and risks involved in building a start-up technology company.
“In early stage companies, the investors you bring on the journey can be as crucial to your success as your first executive team hires. Selected well, they will contribute at crucial times and on critical topics in a helpful and valuable manner. In a Canadian context, First Ascent Ventures, is one of the most thoughtful, pragmatic and experienced names in venture capital. Any early stage company Founder/Leadership team would do well to have them in the tent and on the journey.”Andrew WaitmanCEO, Assent Compliance
Our target companies have growing monthly recurring revenues with a strong product offering and top tier customer references. We typically invest from the Series A round onwards with around $5 to $10 million per investment. In order to add value we require a board seat and actively assist management teams to grow their business.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Tony and the team at First Ascent Ventures, since 2016. They have been instrumental in helping grow Q4 from an early stage company to the scaled business it is today. It’s never easy to build a company and there are always ups and downs. Having the right partner, like First Ascent Ventures, makes all the difference in achieving success and getting to the next level.”Darrell HeapsCEO, Q4 Inc.
“First Ascent partnered with us in our series A and since then, has been with us every step of the way. They’re incredibly supportive of Upchain and our vision, and have been instrumental to achieving our growth strategy. Whether it’s helping us build our team, make introductions with partners and peers, or coaching me to become a better leader and CEO, they’re always responsive and always quick to chip in. That hands-on guidance and experience was critical as we scaled and ultimately achieved a premium exit!”John LaslavicCEO and Founder, Upchain
Managing Partner and Co-Founder
Richard Black is a co-founder and Managing Partner of First Ascent Ventures. Richard has over 28 years of experience in senior roles with some of Canada’s largest VC firms…
Tony van Marken
Managing Partner and Co-Founder
Tony van Marken is co-founder and Managing Partner of First Ascent Ventures. Tony is an experienced international executive who has worked in the private and public markets…
Katharine is a new member of the FAV team and joined us as a Venture Partner in December 2019 after advising a number of FAV portfolio companies on privacy strategy…
Nicole has acted as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Fund since inception. Nicole has experience in small private and emerging companies having worked at Reformulary Group Inc., Aver Media LP and…
Noah has experience working in finance and technology, both in Canada and abroad. He was previously a summer investment banking analyst in the Diversified practice at UBS Canada…
Michael has experience working in business and finance, with a focus on technology in Canada. He was previously working in the Financial Analysis department at Deloitte Canada. Before that, Michael worked as an associate…