Given the China’s market size, it’s obvious why we see so many foreign startups and expats in China. However, it still might sound a little silly if a business targets non-Chinese in China given the the relatively small population. But if you’re also a non-Chinese living in China, focusing on expat market can actually serve as a smart tactic, because you understand expat’s needs, and it can gradually appeal to the English-speaking Chinese community.

China Classifieds, an expat-founded startup based in Shanghai, won the second prize at the 5th Startup Leadership Program (SLP) demo day held on Saturday, followed by the first winner, Bizbuzz, a global calling network with directory services.

“Between number 1 and number 2 was only a one vote difference, very close. They had a clear problem to solve, and a clear solution for it. They both got traction and clear idea where they want to go,” said Ryan J King, a professor at Fudan University as he announced the winners.

Marian Danko, founder and CEO of China Classifieds

According to China’s most recent National Census of 2010, there were at least 600,000 expats living in the country. The expat market keeps on growing despite the sluggish speed of growth. The government seems to be doing its best to make it easier for expats to live and work in China.

“I am sure the expat market will keep on growing and China Classifieds will be the place to serve and help English-speaking communities in China, including expats, returnees, professionals, students, interns, and travelers,” Marian Danko, founder and CEO of China Classifieds, told me.

Marian is from Ukraine, and he lived 2 years in Shijiazhuang, where he truly experienced what it means to be an expat in China.

“There was no expat bubble; I know how hard it is to make your life more transparent and less stressful. My personal experience is one of the strengths, that make it difficult to copy,” Marian said. “China Classifieds is much more than just listings. We are reaching out to build partnerships with expat-oriented businesses and distant expat communities across China, which takes time and trust.”

Serving English-speaking communities across China, China Classifieds focuses on real estate, secondhand market, and the job market in particular. Users can quickly post their listing on company’s WeChat account, which also syncs and uploads to the website. While many major Chinese cities have similar offerings, they are usually still geographically limited. China Classifieids, on the other hand, is available across major cities in China.

“Current solutions on the market are either not focused on listings or not designed for posting listings, require VPN, do not have a mobile version of the website, use old technology, or are limited to certain locations,” Marian says.

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Screenshots of China Classifieds

All services are currently free as the company focuses on growing their user base. They are working on a freemium service, where users can post one listing for free, but must pay for more. The company is also thinking of providing a package service for expat-oriented businesses in China. They will support both WeChat and Alipay for payment.

Startup Leadership Program (SLP) is a training program and lifetime network for entrepreneurs, startup founders, and innovators. It is not an incubator or accelerator, and takes no stake, nor gives investment.

“For me, the value of SLP was practical knowledge and a wide network. In my SLP journey, I learned a lot about how to run a startup from founders of successful businesses, and I met wonderful and inspiring people on my way. Usually, Chinaccelerator picks startups from SLP program,” Marian said.

The classifieds startup had bootstrapped until now, and is looking for more business partnerships and funding.

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at