An influential crowd, brilliant live saxophonist playing in the background, distinguished ladies and gentlemen and a quintessential venue for any event – those were just a few of lasting memories from the sophomore event, Black & Gold, held November 19, 2011 at Toronto’s most prestigious venue , The Carlu by Omega Group. Determined to lead Toronto as an executive social organization, entertainment and events company, Omega Group aims to be the fundamental mouthpiece for Toronto’s new found growing, global significance and stature. The growth of Omega Group in the 6 months since its inception has been spectactular. Its parties have already gained a reputation all their own and become must-attend events, if you can get in.
Omega Group, as founder Massoud Abbasi puts it, “Is a vehicle and platform for bringing together the best individuals in this city. The most ambitious, the most active and those who want to see Toronto become bigger, better, more influential and a shining beacon and example of progress and development for the world. It is a sophisticated and complex undertaking that spans significant social media and web channels and platforms, decentralized social hierarchies, more than 1100 core members and more than 2000 secondary members which are continually becoming more integrated and active within the organization”
Omega Group is not only representative of what Toronto is and is about to become, but also an event management company that develops high-end events, charity functions and social galas. Through exclusive, invite only, high-end soirees at various upscale venues through Toronto, like The Carlu, Abode, Arcadia Room, among others yet to be revealed, Omega Group produces a party atmosphere for influential members in the community to network, conduct business and help each other grow while having a good time and partying in a classy and sophisticated manner, something that is rare in Toronto’s otherwise standard and commercialized entertainment industry
Massoud says: “It basically started because I came to realize there is no truly sophisticated and mature ambience in this city, no real place where likeminded and progressive individuals could come together in an elegant setting, revel, fraternize and have a truly valuable good time. I decided that if Toronto was to ever become a New York or London that we needed this so I’ve set up the infrastructure and initiated the movement for it now and the response has been overwhelming. People like the focus on quality so the organization and the concept/philosophy is rapidly growing.”
As a successful Bay St Financier during the day, Massoud is able to utilize this startup in an untraditional manner by not having to focus on a profit model immediately Rather, he has the luxury to do what he loves and be selective about venues, who is invited, the theme and setting, and how an event is put together. “We believe that a night out shouldn’t just be about having fun and getting drunk in a loud and rancorous environment, but a night where one has space to move freely and comfortably, surrounded by classy individuals who want to have fun but also meet likeminded individuals, to have an audio level that allows one to actually engage another in conversation and to make meaningful connections.”
For too long places like NYC, London and Paris have been the go to places for classy and upscale soirees – Omega Group is changing all that for Toronto. Toronto has been a growing community of startups and business leaders for numerous years and the events being held by the Omega Group are the dynamic engagements that the city is crying out for. Such events, such a movement may perhaps truly facilitate and act as the catalyst for the evolution of this city into a leading centre for science, business, entertainment and entrepreneurism. What’s been missing is some kind of magnet that brings together all the already present but disparate pieces that Toronto has that could yield it a global powerhouse. What’s needed is something Massoud calls “Social Cluster Cohesion”.
So what’s next for Omega Group? They have two upcoming events in the very near future. Saturday February 11, 2012 at the Abode Public Residence, where Omega Group is presenting Salon D’hiver. An event that is also being done in support of a Toronto based social cause and charity, Project Afterthought, which is focused on helping Toronto’s disenfranchised homeless. Then on Saturday March 10, 2012, Omega Group is hosting another one of their trademark Soiree’s, Black & Red, to be held at The Carlu. It will once again be an exclusive evening of class, distinction, partying and networking in Toronto’s most prestigious and elegant venue.
We had the pleasure of having an exclusive interview with Massoud Abbasi where we talked about Toronto, Omega Group and entrepreneurship:
Q&A with Massoud Abbasi
Q: Who is Massoud?
I was born in Tehran, Iran in 1982 during the Iran-Iraq war. My father was a prominent and influential journalist and intellectual, an active member of a banned communist party as well as a political dissident. All of which resulted in his imprisonment for 4 years, during which he was tortured. This resulted in the divestiture of all family assets upon his release and the subsequent fleeing to Turkey where we claimed asylum and remained for two years as refugees. It was 3 older sisters and I at the time. There are now 2 younger brothers in the family. Between then and now, the family has endured many hardships but given our size and closeness, like many other immigrants in this country, we worked hard and overcame adversity to establish ourselves and reap the benefits that a developed country such as Canada yields. I guess you could say a very rough, abusive and impoverished childhood instilled in my great sense of drive, purpose and desire for success and significance.
I have a BA and an MBA in Finance from a leading university as well as a BA in Philosophy. I studied philosophy as that is what my father had studied and hence something I grew up with. I read books instead of watching TV or playing sports. Reading and writing are passions which I plan on turning into professional endeavors in due course and philosophy is singularly my favorite subject and by far my biggest passion. For those that know me, they know it defines me. I wish to be a genuine philosopher in my old age.
I decided to pursue technical studies in finance because I knew philosophy would not yield much of a living. I developed a great love for finance and the markets trading stocks from a young age. Hence I decided to pursue this field and have been in it for several years now successfully with plans of eventually setting up my own hedge fund/asset management company in the future. I believe in free enterprise, hard work, and the pursuit of independence. I am an entrepreneur. I would like to think I am unconventional and unorthodox in many ways, including beliefs. I believe in the power of the mind, of persistence and integrity. I am a big family man, which is always my first priority. I love to travel, far and wide and as often as possible. It is the greatest teacher. I love to socialize at length and would like to positively affect everyone in my sphere by providing inspiration and motivation or even just an open ear. I love sushi. I love jogging. I love night time. I hate sleep.
Q: Why do you think Toronto is a hot bed for entrepreneurs and young business people?
It’s really quite simple. Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, it is young and it is growing rapidly and it has all the basic resources to facilitate almost any enterprise or undertaking. We are consistently ranked on various compilations as one of the most opportunity strewn cities in the world, with world class education facilities, research institutes, universities, public/private partnerships, architecture, technology infrastructure and financial systems. Hence the sheer requirement for additional capacity in almost all industries, from professional services to basic ones like Laundromats.. The multiplier effects of this growing need and growth are astonishing. Toronto is also dynamic. The sheer ethnic rainbow allows for collaboration and integration on a level unparalelled in the world. This leads to the blending of divergent but complimentary ideas, ideologies, cultures, backgrounds, proficiencies and tastes. This dynamism cannot be mimicked any other way and Toronto has it organically. The young constitute a big and growing base that is eager to establish itself professionally and personally. Our creative arts industries capabilities are nowhere more apparent than TIFF, which is now widely viewed as the 2nd most influential movie festival on the planet, first when it comes to cultural diversity and independent /international filmmaking. Drake has finally put Toronto in the HipHop big leagues. These things speak volumes about the potential Toronto has.
I myself have personally been involved with TIFF the last two years on the events side working at the biggest red carpet gala, Cinema Against Aids at The Carlu which raises funds for two great aids organizations, Dignitas and Amfar. Omega Group is now working on a large fundraiser for Dignitas International to be held this summer and we have several events planned for TIFF 2012. All in all, we have the people young and old, the experience, the resources, the infrastructure, the capital and the ambition to be a hot bed for new ideas, new businesses and great developments for humanity. We simply need to facilitate all of this by creating an organization that brings all of these disparate elements into a working, coherent, effective whole so that we may realize synergies for one another’s offerings. This is fundamentally what Omega Group is about and why we are focused on Toronto. We feel it is the new New York, the city of the future. Omega Group will always be dedicated to the development of Toronto. We live Toronto. We breathe Toronto. We are Toronto.
Q: Tell us about the latest party held at the Carlu? What was accomplished? And when / where is the next event?
The Black and Gold Soiree was a phenomenal success. It was our sophomore event at our trademark venue, Toronto’s finest, The Carlu. We had approximately 600 guests come out from an invitation list of about 1000 so our turnout rate was high. It was a red carpet gala with live music, cocktails, canapes and most importantly, Toronto’s finest professionals and movers and shakers. We had press coverage as well as notable faces in attendance including members of parliament and high level Bay St executives. What we wanted to do was to continue to set the tone and introduce what Omega Group is about, our mandate and our plans going forward. Fundamentally, people came out, were treated to a night of understated elegance, sophistication, an environment where they could network and party equally, meet new people and engage old friends and make new ones. We had a Jazz duo including Carson Freeman, one of Canada’s best Saxophonists as well as two DJ’s who spun eclectic music for our two rooms, the circle room where it was more of a dance party and the grand foyer lounge with ample leather couches to sit on and chat. We also had a stop and go display where guests could have their pictures professionally taken. We did what we set out to do, raise the bar much higher than Toronto is used to for entertainment/social events. Further, we continue to integrate members with each other with about 20 brand ambassadors who are really friends walking the room making sure everyone is in good spirits, taken care of and most importantly, engaging one another. You can call them professional icebreakers. Judging by our media coverage post event, and the growth in our social media and the nature of the feedback, we accomplished just this, another step towards making Omega Group the social organization for Torontonians who want to see this city grow into a global centre of influence, commerce, culture and social progressive causes.
We have 3 events planned as of now. For the first half of 2012. The first is Omega Group Salon D’hiver at Abode Public Residence on February 11th, 2012. This event will be similar to the Carlu events however it will be smaller at about 450 guests and will be partially a fundraiser for a great Toronto charity that helps the cities homeless, Project Afterthought. It will still be an all out, red carpet Omega Group affair. The next event will be the Omega Group Black & Red Soiree at The Carlu on March 10th 2012. This one will be similar to the Black & Gold party but even bigger and better at 700 guests, corporate sponsorship and the attendance of various Toronto media figures and celebrities. For late/spring early summer we are working on a grand charity event for Dignitas International to be held at one of Toronto’s new 5 star hotels. This event will be a black tie event with about 300 exclusive guests and will act as a fundraiser for AIDS research as well as an awareness raising event for Dignitas International and its great and important work. We are concurrently working on several other high-end soirees for this summer and details for those will be released accordingly in due course by our PR dept through our website and social media. All Omega Group events are exclusive and by invite only.
Q: Where is Omega Group headed? What do you think the future of Omega Group will hold?
Quite simply, we want to become synonymous with the ‘new’ Toronto. We want to act as the mouthpiece for this city as it blossoms into a globally influential player like London and NY. We will continue to build our membership base, following, architecture, corporate partnerships and affiliations with great organizations like Dignitas amongst many others. We will continue integrating our members and base so that everyone who is involved derives real value from the relationships Omega Group creates. The future of Omega Group will be an organic process that will unveil itself naturally, but it will undoubtedly span this city, span various demographics and we will continue to host significant and influential must-attend events at venues people are traditionally not used to going to or attending social events at. I think we will create our own, unique form of social entertainment and engagement and style of ‘partying’ where professionals will go to not just have a great time and leave their worries behind for a few hours and unwind, but to do so in a classy, upscale setting devoid of pretension with like minded individuals who don’t have a chip on their shoulders even though perhaps they could , so as to walk away with some value and not just less money in their pocket and a bigger headache in the morning.
Q: What can someone expect when attending an Omega Group event?
We spare no expense in ensuring an Omega Group event is sophisticated, elegant, upscale and classy. You can expect the best of the best and most importantly, the cream of the crop with respect to attendees, Toronto’s finest, movers and shakers, master of industry, professionals and those that are driving our great city forward. You can expect great music, live music, and great ambience. You can expect red carpet treatment, literally. Plenty of press, cameras and notable faces. Most importantly, you can expect a memorable night that will yield value long after it is done by the new relationships you will actually build. We guarantee it.
Q: Who is an Omega Group event for?
Fundamentally, for anyone that cares about making an impact on the world, even if its just in their city. Anyone who wants to actually meet others, not just pass them by and scan their apparel and their physical appearance.. It is meant to bring people together to party and have fun in a classy setting bereft of the typical attitude and egotism one can expect at other, conventional social venues, especially in Toronto. We want to bring people together so that together they achieve more and by so doing propel Toronto forward. It’s really that simple. Of course we can also custom gear each event or separate events to obtain other objectives, whether for private, corporate or philanthropic clients.
Q: What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
It means taking risks and trying to do something new or something old in a new way. It means persistence, tenacity and determination. It means self conviction and belief in the value of what you are doing for a greater cause, whether yours or those of others. It means independence but also collaboration with like minded individuals. It means more than anything a rejection of the fear of failure or the criticism of others. By overcoming these, we can all tap into our innate value offering and give something back to the world, produce something unique, provide some form of value to society. It goes back to the core of our free-market enterprise system, creative destruction. Entrepreneurship is the driver of progress and growth. It may sound cliché, but it is simply the truth and it is embedded everywhere in nature, in the very cycle of life. In the end, I think everyone has an inner entrepreneur but very few set out to attempt it. This usually stems from the greatest, most pervasive and most paralyzing human emotion: fear. People are afraid and do not believe in themselves. I don’t consider myself to be particularly intelligent, I simply work hard and am persistent. To quote one of my favourite artists and an icon, Jay-Z, who aptly states in one of his songs: I’m hardly the Harvard type, I just had the balls to do it. I mean really, what’s there to be afraid of, what’s the worst that can happen? Life is short, go for it, don’t be afraid of failure, be afraid of regrets.