Oct 27 • 1HR 2M

Everything Startups, Investing, IPOs, Founder Support and Mountaineering with Tony van Marken of First Ascent Ventures

Episode 112

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Ripple Ventures
Join your host, Matt Cohen, Founder & Managing Partner at Ripple Ventures for weekly conversations with leaders in the startup ecosystem discussing the truth about investing, building and running startups.
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Mountaineering is a sport that draws a lot of comparisons. Climbing can be done as a lark or as a well-planned expedition. Sometimes even the best-planned climbs can end in disaster due to one wrong choice or factors outside the control of the climbers. And sometimes everything is perfect and an underprepared climber can achieve something special.

At the end of the day, you need to show up and do the climb before you know the outcome.

That same truth applies to venture capital and investing, and our guest today, Tony van Marken of First Ascent Ventures, marries both those pursuits as a successful operator, investor, and mountaineer.

We touched on how Tony supports founders going through the emotional startup journey, and how to help CEOs during a company-wide layoff. Tony shares his experience as a public market CEO, and how the recent sell-off in Canadian IPOs is impacting his Founders.

About Tony van Marken:
Tony van Marken is the co-founder and Managing Partner of First Ascent Ventures. Previously he was the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vox Telecom Limited, a leading independent telecommunications service provider in South Africa. 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. 

Tony is an accomplished endurance athlete and a veteran of over 35 high-altitude mountaineering expeditions with over 65 summits. He summited Everest in 2005 to complete his quest to climb the world’s seven continental summits.

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.


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In this episode we discuss:

02:45 Tony’s career journey to becoming an investor
06:01 Perspective on the current downturn and how it compares to ones in the past
09:12 Why today may be the best time to make investments
11:06 Common mistakes founders make in downturns
15:42 Why now is a good time for founders to raise prices
17:12 Helping founders manage the emotional rollercoaster
21:27 How founders can manage a RIF and layoffs
27:35 Advice to CEOs considering an IPO
36:51 Has power returned to VCs or do founders still have the edge
38:25 Expectations Tony has for new investments
40:52 What should founders be asking investors?
44:18 Should founders pursue remote or in-person for their companies
50:39 Tony’s mountaineering experiences

Fast Favorites

  1. 🎙- Favorite Podcast: Beyond the Grid with Tom Clarkson

  2. 📰 - Favorite Newsletter/Blog: The Daily Maverick

  3. 📲 - Favorite Tech Gadget: Garmin In Reach Mini-2

  4. 📈 -  Favorite New Trend: Travel and experiences

  5. 📚 - Favorite Book: Never Split the Difference

  6. 🤔 - Favorite Life Lesson: Never ignore the opportunity to learn from failure…

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