First Ascent Ventures was founded in 2015 and invests in emerging Canadian 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 stake holders.

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.


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.


  • “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 Waitman - CEO, Assent Compliance


  • “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 Heaps - CEO, Q4 Inc.

The Team