About Us

First Ascent Ventures (FAV) was founded in 2015 and invests in early stage, emerging and growth-oriented enterprise software companies in the information technology sector (ICT). FAV Fund I ($100 million) is now fully invested and FAV Fund II ($125 million) closed in August 2021.

First Ascent Ventures is looking for companies that are developing innovative Enterprise Software that leverages the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data, cloud computing, 5G, mobility, blockchain and the Internet of Things (IOT) with an additional focus on privacy and security.

The Fund is looking for outstanding, committed entrepreneurs and management teams who seek not just financial backing, but value the experience and expertise of successful financial and operating executives who can create a catalyst for growth and also have deep transaction experience with respect to IPOs, follow on financings and mergers and acquisitions.

The First Ascent Ventures team bring deep bench strength as operating executives and investors having built and invested in significant, global enterprise software companies. The Fund is an active investor and is highly focused on helping entrepreneurs to scale their businesses to compete on a global stage by not only providing capital, but leveraging the collective experience of the FAV team.

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

Investment Criteria

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.

Machine Learning
Big Data

“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.


Rock Content

19 April 2021


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ThinkData Works Inc.

20 April 2021


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20 April 2021

“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

The Team

Richard Black

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 Tomko


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 Vivaldi


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 Chaikof

Senior Associate

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 Jenkins


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…