Hashtaqs: SME Excellence Business Award & Aspiring Woman Entrepreneur Award 2022/2023

Renee Tan, Founder of Hashtaqs

Hashtaqs uplifts businesses in brand transformation and omnichannel marketing.  

The Founder, Renee Tan, first started the business in 2016 as an advisory and training business, which later evolved to include several pillars of businesses, from business & branding consultancy, online and offline marketing campaigns, community development through webinars and conferences, training and development programs on sales, marketing, and service excellence related, and internationalisation programs. The company was rebranded to Hashtaqs in 2020 to encapsulate what it does. 

The company prides itself on being consultative in nature, by immersing itself in the clients’ journey and providing a transformative roadmap to help clients achieve their goals through problem identification, customised solutions, upskilling talents, and transformation of its business or brand. 

Besides deploying and executing client projects, Hashtaqs has two other brands that it manages, HASH Innovation Asia and HER Entrepreneur, which are omnichannel media platforms and ecosystem of entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, government, and investors across Asia, in which Hashtaqs engage monthly through webinars or meet-ups and yearly conferences since 2017. This is a unique proposition that Hashtaqs has compared to its competitors. 

“Being a woman entrepreneur was challenging, as Renee recalled the difficulties, she faced juggling between work and family. “It was hard because my kids are still young and I had to be there for them, but this line of work requires a lot of travelling and going overseas for events and so on. There are a lot of worries on my mind when I must travel for work.” For Renee, her motivation came from her supportive and understanding family who has always been encouraging her to push on and better herself. “My kids and family are my support pillars,” she shared.  

Renee loved science and aspired to be a scientist as a kid. “Why don’t you try working in a lab?” her parents encouraged her. Thus, in 2005, she started out as a Research Assistant at A*Star, conducting experiments and stem cells research. But over time, her career and personal goals changed and didn’t see a reason in staying. She went on to pursue a Double Major in Psychology and Marketing at Singapore Management University (SMU), gradually upskilling herself in the business. Eventually, she founded Hashtaqs and H.E.R Entrepreneur with the hope to inspire, connect, and empower like-minded entrepreneurs and encourage more female entrepreneurs to be in the business sector. 

In the early stages of the development of the company, Renee had to execute all the business activities herself—from programme production, sales, marketing to website, and partnerships development. In 2017, she was blessed with her first child and during the same year, the company launched its first conference, HER Asia Summit, graced by Minister Low Yen Ling. 

“It is very important for us to fully understand the customers’ journey, and to provide relevant services along the way.”  Renee had to reach out to corporates for sponsorship and speakers to fill the program while she was pregnant. She never gave up and the first year proved to be a success due to her determination. As more brands started to reach out, the company also started to provide their services in networking, seminars, and digital marketing.  

Throughout the years, the omnichannel media platform business, HER Entrepreneur, evolved from a passion project to one of the recognisable brands in Asia, and at the same time, that created an opportunity for the business to spin off a brand transformation and omnichannel marketing company. 

To Renee, the key purpose of the company is to build a network of diverse communities. She managed to launch H.E.R Asia Summit in 2017 and subsequently expanded into Malaysia in the following years with the support of local government agencies and ministries.  

 When Covid-19 hit, a lot of activities in Malaysia came to a standstill. However, Renee continued to arrange programmes and meetings virtually to connect with the community and prospects. “When the borders are fully open, we are looking to further expand the business and tap into the overseas market,” Renee said hopefully.  

Renee believes in the importance of understanding the customers’ journey. “We have customers from all backgrounds, and each customer would have different needs based on the purpose of their company. Therefore, it is very important for us to fully understand the customers’ journey, and to provide relevant services along the way. What are the company’s differentiating factors? What are their target markets? These are all the factors we need to consider, to correctly position the company well in the relevant marketing channels online or offline. For example, we will start with content development until the client has reached a certain number of followings. Then the next step would be to advertise them accordingly and get them ready for overseas expansion if it’s part of their roadmap.”  

2019 was a year of great heights for Renee. She gave birth to her second boy in August and the following month, the company has conferred the Brands for good Award for the exceptional work done in H.E.R Entrepreneur. The company also launched in Malaysia the same year. “Tiring but fulfilling. Triple happiness!” said Renee cheerfully.  

When asked about the company’s future, Renee remained optimistic that the company is gaining good traction as they are receiving enquiries locally and overseas from time to time. “In 5 years, Hashtaqs might be big enough to serve the entire region of Asia and possibly some western countries too, and it is very important for us to fully understand the customers’ journey, and to match relevant services along the way to boost their business growth,” Renee assured with a smile on her face.

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