Tony Van Marken

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 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, 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.



  • Accenture
  • Architel Systems Corporation
  • XDL Intervest
  • Vox Telecom
  • Walsingham Growth Partners


  • CVCA Entrepreneur of the Year Award
  • Top 40 Under 40
  • Finalist - EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award


  • G7 Associate/Mentor at the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL)