Brian Hager, co-founder and president of Tradesparq
Brian Hager and Michael Kleist met while both were employed by Global Sources, a business-to-business (B2B) manufacturers directory headquartered in Hong Kong.
By 2010, Hager and Kleist had turned the idea into action, founding Tradesparq - "The Social Network for Global Trade.
On the contrary, according to Hager
, the Shanghai-based company is projected to become the second largest B2B platform in the world in terms of content - number of suppliers and product listings - by mid-2014, behind only Alibaba.com
I spoke to Hager
recently about the limitations of traditional B2B marketplaces, the methods used by Tradesparq
to overcome these limitations, and, more generally, the process of setting up a tech company in China as a foreigner.
refers to traditional B2B online trade platforms such as Alibaba.com
and Global Sources
as "Web 1.0".
They have lots of content, making it easy for buyers to locate suppliers in their field, but, Hager notes, the sheer amount of content they have also makes it almost impossible for an inexperienced buyer to filter out the good suppliers from the bad ones.
offers an example.
You don't, according to Hager
From their own experience working on B2B platformers, Hager
and Kleist knew that the due diligence process was eased by personal connections with information on the suppliers of interest.
According to Hager
, the number of business inquiries occurring on Tradesparq
is growing rapidly.
The fact that Hager and Kleist created Tradesparq is fascinating enough.
noted that he
is frequently asked that question and that he
thinks the challenges of starting a company in China are overblown, stating that "there are a lot of advantages to starting a company in China.
said, this included proximity to suppliers and access to talented developers.
As for the red tape associated with being a foreigner starting a tech company in China, Hager
said "it is just part of doing business here," adding that "it's really not a big deal, you just need good partners to help you along.
pointed out that he and Kleist aren't exactly anomalous - he personally knows several foreigners who have set up wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) in China.