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Expats in Chongqing: A Glimpse into the Vibrant Expat Startup Community through Clark's Story


By Xiao Wu, video by Xingchen Yue, iChongqing news.

Chongqing – “We actually call our people fellow grinders, because we’re all grinding hard on our own businesses and try to get our products or services polished well for the market and find the market fit,” said Clark Rubino, the Chongqing Chapter Director of Startup Grind, said to iChongqing.

Clark moved to Chongqing in 2011. At that time, he opened a school with a Chinese partner. In about two years, he and his partner learned from the mistakes and decided to close it and try other things. He started to teach English. A few years later, he set up his own business to do consulting in Chongqing as he had saved enough capital by 2016. “I actually think that going to any country to start your own business as an expat is significantly much more work than you originally expected to be,” said Clark. “Not only do you have to deal with language, but also differences in culture. The culture also affects people to do business”.

His words also explain why he helps to set up and develop the Startup Grind community in Chongqing. Startup Grind is an independent startup community, actively educating, inspiring, and connecting 2,000,000 entrepreneurs in over 600 cities in 124 countries. Clark and other volunteers kicked off Startup Grind Chongqing Chapter in 2018, and it has been over eight months since it set up. “Our mission is to build healthier ecosystem here in Chongqing for startups to survive and thrive. For that to happen, we need to involve more stakeholders of startups and have them get to know information available to them.”

The regular activity of Startup Grind took the form of fireside chat. The guest speakers and the audience will sit around to talk and share experience on running startups. “We have guest speakers from Panda Auto, Zhubajie (the leading service outsourcing platform in China), and NenluTea (the local milk tea chain shop). We ask them about the challenges they are facing and opportunities they can take advantages of, and how they bring their services and product to the market. The crowd can ask their questions. “The audience is mainly stakeholders of startups. “The common value of helping each other draws us together,” Clark said.

Clark is very positive about Chongqing’s market for startups. He said, “Chongqing is the municipality directly under the Central Government. In recent years, the policies get more transparent. Chongqing is at the confluence of the Yangtze River and the China-Europe express, which holds a huge market for the logistics related businesses.”

In Chongqing’s expat community, there are also a considerable number of expats who want to run their own business in this vibrant city. “A lot of expats here are interested,” said Clark. “They are still learning about the market. Many haven’t exactly started it yet. I know a few have registered. This expat startup group is at the starting stage.” The expat startups in Chongqing cover fields such as trade business, tech companies, and tourism.


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