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In today’s global economy, even small American businesses are often turning to China and India to manufacture their products. But finding a reliable supplier across the world isn’t easy.

Tradesparq, a Shanghai based startup, is trying to simplify the process of locating a trustworthy manufacturing partner by allowing business owners to search a directory of global suppliers and match those results against their social network. Think Alibaba meets Linkedin.

“The Chinese manufacturing market, valued at nearly $1.9 trillion last year and representing almost 20% of the worldwide total, suffers from well-documented problems around supplier quality and reliability,” said Tradesparq founder Brain Hager, who worked for years in China on just these kinds of problems.

Above: Tradesparq co-founder Michael Kleist

“We reduce the time spent on supplier discovery and due diligence,” said Hager. “Traditional Web 1.0 Chinese supplier directories are based on paid ratings, which offer buyers no reliable validation of the quality of their Chinese suppliers. Plus, with no filters, the sheer volume of information and suppliers to verify is too time consuming. Search for kitchen sink to find a manufacturer on Alibaba, and you are likely to get tens of thousands of results. We winnow that down to a dozen top rated firms who you can check for references against your social network.”

On stage at DEMO, co-founder Michael Kleist said that Tradesparq has more than 500,000 products from 75,000 suppliers available on its service.

Last year Tradesparq had 1.2 million inquiries and says its on pace to do four times that this year. It has backing from a mix of angels and institutions, including Ed Haynes, the CFO of China Omnicom Media and founder of, an early Chinese social network.

For a great rundown on how the company works, check out this presentation they gave at a recent DEMO Asia event.

Tradesparq is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

Image from Flickr user K.Kendall

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