Toujuwang – An Expat’s Attempt to Improve Apartment Hunting in China
A Q+A with Jason Lim, a successful Australian entrepreneur launching a service aimed at domestic Chinese apartment hunters amid ever-soaring housing costs
The city of Beijing is a place with rich culture, constant changes and a growing startup scene. As one of the more developed tech hubs in the country, Beijing is host to a large and growing number of foreign entrepreneurs looking to make an impact in China.
I sat down for an interview with Jason Lim, an Australian entrepreneur who’s been based here in the capital for the past three years. His newest project,Toujuwang, is an online platform with the goal of bringing transparency to local housing prices for domestic Chinese apartment hunters. With many existing housing websites posting false apartment photos and misleading prices, Jason hopes to win over the local Chinese market by providing an open alternative method for apartment hunting.
Toujuwang is a unique project not only in that it is attempting to provide a service inside the domestic market, but that it builds on Lim’s previous experience building an apartment search service for expats.
Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the name and idea behind Toujuwang?
The idea from the start was to increase transparency in the residential real estate market in China. To achieve this, we want to build a network of renters in China and give them a platform to share and exchange information about their rental situation, like price and quality of property. We want to bring this information to the surface and give them an alternative to asking agents, looking at poor websites or asking a limited number of friends.
The name “Toujuwang” means “transparent living space.” It comes from the Chinese words tòumíng 透明, which means transparent, and zhù 住 (pronounced similar to ju), which means to live. We want to empower renters to share and have access to information that is otherwise hidden or controlled by people who are incentivized to keep the market murky.
Right now if you were to figure out the price of a rental property on your own, there are only a limited number of sources. If you think about it, all of these sources (besides your friends) are biased. Agents and landlords are incentivized to charge more rent to obviously make more money. Websites artificially list lower prices to attract customers, and then switch them to something that is really “available.” You can imagine how frustrating it is for people to hear so many vastly different quotes. We hope that Toujuwang will give people an idea of what the prices are in certain areas so that they can make an informed decision on where to live.
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Great to see Aussie’s building businesses in China!