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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 as a high-tech entrepreneur, management consultant and investor, having worked in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada and France.

Tony was previously Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vox Telecom Limited (JSE: VOX), a leading independent telecommunications service provider in South Africa. Tony succeeded in transforming Vox Telecom from a relatively small telecommunications service provider with $10 million in revenue into South Africa’s leading, alternative independent telecom operator with annualized revenues of $262 million prior to its privatization.

Tony is a former General Partner with XDL Intervest Corporation, a Canadian venture capital fund, where he led investments in the software and telecommunications industry. Prior to XDL, he was President and CEO of Architel Systems Corporation (NASDAQ: ASYCF, TSX: ASY), a global leader in telecommunications software. Tony served as President and CEO over the period 1994 to 1999 and grew revenues from $1 million to $70 million and led Architel through its initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1996 and NASDAQ listing in 1998. Architel had over 450 employees worldwide across four continents with a market capitalization of $400 million. Prior to Architel, Tony worked as a management consultant for Accenture in London and South Africa.

Tony currently serves as a board member of Potloc and Andgo systems and is a board observer for Sama. He also served as a board observer of Dialogue (TSX: CARE) until their IPO on the Toronto Stock Exchange on March 30th 2021, and served as a board observer for Rubikloud until their acquisition by Kanaxis (TSX: KSX). Tony served as Director and Chairman of Q4 (TSX:QFOR) since May 2016 until the completion of the IPO on October 30th 2021. Recognized as a leader in his field, Tony was honoured in 1998 as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, was awarded the 1996 Canadian Venture Capital Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award (1998).

Tony graduated with a B.Sc. (Computer Science) from the University of Cape Town and with a B.Comm. (Economics and Business Management) from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and has completed executive education courses at Kellogg University, Chicago Booth School of Business, Roman School of Business, Wits Business School (South Africa) and the Oxford Saïd Business School.

Tony is an accomplished endurance athlete (marathon, ultra marathon and mountain bike stage racer) and a veteran of over 35 high-altitude mountaineering expeditions with over 65 summits. He summitted Everest in 2005 to complete his quest to climb the world’s seven continental summits. He has acted as a motivational speaker for corporations and international conferences around the world. He has also lectured on Leadership on the executive programs for the Oxford Saïd Business School, Duke Corporate Executive Education and the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town.

  • First Ascent Ventures
  • Vox Telecom (JSE:VOX)
  • XDL Intervest
  • Architel Systems Corporation (NASDAQ:ASYC, TSX:ASC)
  • Accenture
  • Walsingham Growth Partners
  • Rubikloud (sold to Kinaxis (TSX:KSX))
  • Dialogue IPO (TSX:CARE)
  • Vox Telecom (JSE:VOX, sold to Investec PE)
  • Architel IPO (TSX & NASDAQ, acquired by Nortel)
  • Upchain (sold to Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK))
  • InfoInterActive (sold to AOL)
  • Sensibill (sold to Q2)
  • ScribbleLive (sold to Rock Content)

Tony van Marken has been a mentor at the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) at the University of Toronto since 2018 participating in the Prime, AI and Blockchain streams. Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is a nonprofit organization that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies.

Tony van Marken is a veteran mountaineer and endurance athlete and has completed over 30 high-altitude mountaineering expeditions on seven continents and with over 60 successful high altitude summits. He reached the summit of Everest via the South Col route on June 2nd, 2005, to complete his quest to become the first South African to climb the original Seven Summits, the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents.

In 2002, at the age of 37, Tony van Marken climbed Kilimanjaro, which ignited a passion to climb some of the world’s great mountains. In less than three years, on his first attempt, he climbed each of the world’s seven continental summits, namely; Everest (8,850m) in Asia, Vinson Massif (4,897m) in Antarctica, Mount McKinley (6,194m) in North America, Kilimanjaro (5,895m) in Africa, Mount Elbrus (5,642m) in Europe, Kosciusko (2,228m) in Australia and Aconcagua (6,962m) in South America.

He has climbed sixteen 4,000m peaks in Europe including the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc (3x). He completed the first, South African ascent of Mount Shinn, the 3rd highest peak in Antarctica, and completed back-to-back ascents of Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring in New Zealand, a feat rarely achieved. He has also climbed the world’s sixth-highest peak, Cho Oyu in Tibet at 8,201m.

Tony van Marken is a member of the American Alpine Club (AAC), Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA), Alpine Club of Canada, Himalayan Club and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS).

Tony van Marken is also a marathon runner, road cyclist, mountain biker and certified open water diver (PADI). He has completed numerous standard and ultra-marathons (2 x Two Oceans Ultra Marathon Finisher), as well as international road and mountain bike stage races including the Cape Epic Mountain Bike Race x2 (regarded as the Tour de France of mountain biking), the TransAndes Challenge (Patagonia, Chile) and The Legend of El Dorado (Colombia) x2, widely regarded as the “Everest of Mountain Biking”.