Sasha-ying — her way

She believes it is important to have a big goal to visualise where you want to be — Shahrill Basri/thesun
Being in the list with many influential figures motivates her to go further —Shahrill Basri/thesun
Her ultimate goal is for Favful to be the go-to platform for beauty in South East Asia — Shahrill Basri/thesun

FOR someone who can't swim but dives, who would jump at any outdoor activity like caving or mountain climbing and say challenges motivate her, Sasha Tan clearly exudes the go-getter in her.

"When I want to learn something, I will research, train myself and pick it up. I have many small personal goals that I have always been achieving, but I think it is also important to have a big goal because you need to visualise where you want to be. Once that becomes a habit, you know you will eventually get what you want," she said, keeping her personal goal private.

Her journey began with her dessert cafe in Singapore where she got a taste of how hard work pays off.
Ensuing, she joined CustomInk, the largest online t-shirt company in US where she learned the technical aspects of building a technology start-up. And later, she was headhunted by Asia Venture Group to join HappyFresh and it was the great people in the founding team who made her decide to join.

There, she learned how technology can help people and industries – and having always had the problem of not knowing what beauty products to buy, she did a lot of trial and error which resulted in bad skin. She spent a lot throughout the years going through drastic treatments such as laser and pimple injections.

"I felt very frustrated at that time, and so I thought if no one was feeding this information (about beauty products), maybe I could do it. I built a prototype and tested it, talked to a few people including investors, and was lucky to get some who believed in the idea – that was when things got serious," she said.

Tan proceeded to found Favful, a TripAdvisor-like platform for beauty products which was backed by Segnel Ventures, Gobi Partners and 500 start-ups before its official launch last year. The platform currently works with 20,000 beauty advisors, partners with over 2,000 brands and covers more than 40,000 products to date.

When asked how she gained the support, Tan said, "the most important thing is to show who you are and why you can bring this through; I think that is what I did. There are probably things I didn't know, but I will make sure to get it done. I was honest and I guess, that is the big difference I did".

Her dedication was rewarded when she was listed in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia recently.

"I am very honoured because it is a very prestigious award. Being in the list with many influential figures is definitely a motivation for me to go further. It is also inspiring as it reminds me there are many others who are on the same journey, who have been through a lot to get to where they are," she said.

Every day is like a roller coaster ride as Tan wakes up thinking what she is going to achieve, what challenges and problems she needs to solve, and spending the day looking for the solution. She spends a lot of time reaching out and meeting people, and continues to work on the paperwork at night.

One challenge that still exists today in Favful is human resource – how to get the best people, how to get them to perform their best, how to motivate them, and how to resolve conflicts between them. Each person has different expectations and for Tan, the big thing is to manage and align them towards the same goal.

"Good talent for a start-up is an interesting topic. He or she doesn't need to be skilled, but they need to believe in things that we do so we can go through a breakthrough together. There are many challenges, and he or she needs to wear many hats and be a hands-on person.

"In summary, the person has to be entrepreneurial but it is not easy as people with this trait probably want to start their own thing. It is always a challenge to find these people and convince them to join you."

When asked what success means to her, Tan said, "to live without regret. If you love a particular thing, why do you not spend your life doing it?"

"Success is very subjective. I feel success is equivalent to the word freedom – having the option to choose the lifestyle you want and the option to be in or out of a situation. I don't think I am successful although I do have the freedom to do a lot of things; I am progressing towards where I want to be.

"You don't need to be an entrepreneur to be successful. As long as you work hard on your passion and interest, you can be successful in what you want instead of chasing an illusion of how entrepreneurship can bring you billions. Every journey is hard work and great things don't come easy. If you believe what you believe in, don't give up."

To provide more value to its users, her plans for Favful very much involves the contributors (beauty experts) to make them realise they are benefiting people, and readers by providing them with more interesting and relevant content.

She wants the platform to empower the community, provide transparency in the beauty industry, and to help people make informed purchase decisions.
"My ultimate goal is for Favful to be the go-to platform for beauty in South East Asia," she said.