Omar Taheri recently set up Spark Plus to disrupt the corporate access space.
What’s your story?
My name is Omar Taheri and I am the founder and CEO of Spark Plus. I was born in India to a mixed background family. My father was essentially a refugee from Afghanistan and my mother is a mixed background of Russian and Indian. I moved to Germany when I was 2 years old and lived there until I was 10. Then I moved to Australia for high school and university. I have been living in Singapore for the last 5 years at various financial institutions such as Bloomberg, Eurekahedge, and most recently Swiss-Asia where I grew the hedge fund platform business. I think I always realized that I was a decent networker and wanted to put my skills to use. I had previously already set up a hedge fund networking event that still holds its legacy, and most recently I have set up Spark Plus to disrupt the corporate access space.
What excites you most about your industry?
The most exciting thing for me about my industry in financial services, is that you get to deal with very bright people. I am constantly learning from others and keeping up with the fast paced changes that occur.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I think that my multicultural background of having Asian and Western values keeps me very much in line with what I do. I bring interesting businesses that are listed (usually in the West) and connect them with investors in Asia. Bridging that gap is something that I have always enjoyed doing.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore would definitely be my favourite city for doing business. For one it’s extremely conducive to doing business as people keep a very open mind. Everyone will take at least one meeting with you and hear you out. Another reason is that most of the business takes place in the heart of the CBD which makes the “wasting of time” rather minimal.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Always believe in yourself, and trust your instincts. There is really no better piece of advise that I have received until this date. A lot of people in your journey, be it in life or business will offer you some sort of advice (be it good or bad), but in the end we need to be able to believe in ourselves to get anything done.
Who inspires you?
My father is one of my biggest inspirations. He was able to flee a war in Afghanistan and come out alive. He really worked hard to make a life for our family. Growing up, we never had wealth, but I always had food on the table and roof over my head. He gave me the opportunity to be anything I ever wanted to be, and for that reason alone, he is my inspiration.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
One of the most amazing things that I have learnt recently that has given me extra drive and motivation is to really ignore external validation. The key is to shift from external to internal validation and this will give you a lot more happiness in life.
A question perhaps to ask is as follows:
Would you rather be the most intelligent person on earth but considered the stupidest? Or the stupidest person on earth but considered the most intelligent?
I now keep an inner scorecard rather than an outer one. What is really key is to be happy, so always treat external praise and negativity with compose disinterest and a strong filter.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing at all, otherwise I wouldn’t be learning.
How do you unwind?
I usually unwind by taking my dog to the park and letting her run around, it’s quite a relaxing sight for me seeing an animal run around freely. I also try and go to the gym and just let all the negative energy out through working out.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali for sure. It’s one of those destinations where I really feel disconnected from the rest of the world. Just being able to enjoy a nice white sandy beach and feel like you are in a forgotten paradise is priceless. I really enjoy just getting a massage and tuning out, and enjoying the lovely food that Bali has to offer.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Tools of Titans” by Timothy Ferriss. My favorite book in terms of learning routines, habits and tactics that billionaires, icons, and world performing athletes do to get through their day.
Shameless plug for your business:
Spark Plus brings listed companies to Asia to do a roadshow and meet with investors. We bring interesting companies to meet with family offices, hedge funds, institutional investors and wealth managers. We currently have 40 listed company clients mainly listed on the ASX, TSX, and LSE.
We are looking to work with listed companies and do their non-deal roadshows in Asia. If you want to find out more about our product please visit and sign up on our website www.sparkplus.org
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.