Brian Hager and Michael Kleist met while both were employed by Global Sources, a business-to-business (B2B) manufacturers directory headquartered in Hong Kong. There, they worked to connect foreign buyers with Chinese producers through what Hager terms “the Yellow Pages of manufacturers.” At the same time, they watched the spectacular growth of social media both in the U.S., where they’re from, and China, their adopted home, and began to wonder if there wasn’t a better way to connect buyers with suppliers.
By 2010, Hager and Kleist had turned the idea into action, founding Tradesparq – “The Social Network for Global Trade.” Their mission was an ambitious one – by entering the B2B connections realm they were not only taking on their old employer, but also Chinese tech giant Alibaba, whose B2B trading arm, Alibaba.com, is formidable. Nevertheless, Tradesparq has hardly foundered. 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. [Read more...]