An entrepreneur turned artist, the new president of the regional HEC Midi-Pyrénées Club has been selected to participate in the Paris 2024 Cultural Olympiad.

David Kassar celebrates the values of sports with his “Olympic collection,” featuring black-and-white photos of athletes enhanced with pastel projections. His compositions – which overlay archive images (obtained from the BNF, the French National Library), dripping-style layers of paint and slogan words on self-improvement inspired by the business world – have earned him the “Cultural Olympiad” label by the 2024 Olympic Games committee. But before dedicating his time to painting, David Kassar had a long history of founding businesses, in France and beyond the borders.



A prominent figure in the HEC Alumni association, David began his career in Canada, where he quickly adopted the Quebec way of life and eventually gained Canadian citizenship. While in Montreal, he noticed that businesses and art venues offered no discounts for young people and students. This observation sparked his idea to create a “culture pass” for youngsters, a type of offer that was already existing in France at the time. “Would you distribute a card that allows young people to access culture, leisure activities, or food at discounted prices?,” the entrepreneur asked universities.

This idea led to the creation of the “Accès Jeunes” card and guide in the 1990s, distributed to 250,000 students annually. Museums, fast-food restaurants, operas, opticians, banks, and insurance companies—nearly 130 sponsors participated in the initiative. From that period, he kept a now-memorabilia guide with a dated aesthetic and proudly recalls Montreal stores displaying “Accès Jeune accepted” signs, nestled between Mastercard and American Express decals.

The initiative received extensive coverage from local media and even earned a place in the famous Petit Futé tourist guides. Encouraged by this success, David Kassar established a foundation to provide scholarships to low-income students. “I received letters from parents saying, ‘My son was able to pursue his studies thanks to you.’ I was thrilled.” He eventually sold his company Accès Jeunes to a Nasdaq-listed American company before moving back to Toulouse in 2000.


“I was a collateral victim of Covid”

In southern France, the business man made a 180-degree turn and embarked on a new entrepreneurial venture, partnering with a doctor. Their company Gloster Santé developed a device for hospitals to combat nosocomial infections. “If I had done this during Covid, I would have been very wealthy,” he says jokingly. His mother worked in hairdressing, and he remembered hair sprays and lacquers. So he thought of diffusing a disinfectant product through compressed air to sanitize hospital surfaces. In 2009, his Labège-based company, located in the suburbs of Toulouse, was acquired by the American giant Johnson & Johnson.

Drawing on his experiences and acquired expertise, he then founded the consulting firm Kassar International. For eight years, the entrepreneur provided consultancy services to French-speaking countries and organized large networking events. “I offered support to business owners and SMEs in France and internationally,” he explains. Until Covid struck. Then, he could not rent the prestigious Mutualité house in the 5th district of Paris for his gatherings. He attempted to transition his business to digital with a new company. “It didn’t work out. I was a collateral victim of Covid. But that’s part of an entrepreneur’s journey.”



He has since decided to take a “little break to explore the painting industry,” an activity he started somewhat as a challenge in the 1990s in Canada. While trying to secure partnerships for his “Accès Jeunes” card, a store selling art supplies offered him a barter. “The owner told me to take brushes, paint, and canvases. I replied that I hadn’t studied Fine Arts. He responded that it was regrettable that, in France, one must study a discipline to have the right to practice it in real life.” Far from home, far from the gaze of others, he embarked on this new passion and made it “an outlet.”

David Kassar now exhibits in strategic places within the business world: at French telecom giant Orange headquarters, in law firms, and at the Yellow Korner gallery in Toulouse, founded by Alexandre de Metz (M.05) and Paul-Antoine de Briat (H.05). He regularly auctions his paintings and donates the funds to causes such as purchasing emergency supplies for non-profit Ukraine Libre or funding tuition fees for students in need at the Toulouse Business School. His exhibition titled “Sport is Art and Vice Versa” will be on tour simultaneously in Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier, and at the International Jazz Festival in Marciac from June to September, always in the presence of personalities from the worlds of sports, culture, and business.


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