Han Ko is not only a businessman with a tech background, but also a community visionary. After being heavily involved in developing and patenting products, founding a company, and selling that company a few decades ago, Han was ready to retire. Yet, as he was known for his deep knowledge of venture capital and real estate investment, thanks to both having grown up with parents in real estate and his graduate degree in engineering, Han’s friends kept asking him for advice on their own startups. “Word got out and more people started asking me for help, so instead of retiring, I started USAKO Group,” he says.
Founded in 1993 with Han as president and CEO, USAKO Group is an official global partner of South Korea’s government and multiple four-year universities. They invest in and train companies in the U.S., Canada, and South Korea, and, as a venture capital firm, unite North American and South Korean markets by providing soft-landing pads for expanding companies. In 2019 alone, USAKO Group brought over a dozen American and South Korean companies to market under their Go Global with USAKO Group Program. With the support from the city of Seoul, they continue helping companies launch till this day. USAKO Group has offices in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Houston, Southern Illinois, and Seoul. As an investor in venture capital and commercial real estate, Han manages the company’s investment and operation decisions, cultivating new talent, and training client companies.
Han’s three decades of multifaceted experience, which includes international investment, technology, business scale-up, and computer science, makes USAKO Group truly unique on a global scale and has facilitated the launch and operation of multiple software and real estate companies in the U.S. and Asia. “The real estate side of the business helped me have a better vision of market and investment trends by working with other investors and multinational tenants,” he says. Han’s international experience and bilingualism allow him to bridge markets in North America and Asia. “I’m very engaged in communicating and working with multicultural clients and organizations,” he says. Han has served in advisory and founding roles for more than 15 companies around the world in multiple industries including venture capital, commercial real estate, software, blockchain, AI, and more.
In addition to his business ventures, Han is active in academic circles, serving as a professor at a U.S. university, and holding partnerships via USAKO Group with other universities in the U.S. and South Korea, including SookMyung Women’s University, Seoul Women’s University, and Texas State University. He’s hosted lectures and events worldwide for over 20 years in his areas of expertise and has designed and sponsored development and accelerator programs. He served as an official member of the South Korean Presidential Advisory Council (NUAC) for a decade, advising on peace promotion on the peninsula and economic growth between South Korea and the U.S. Finally, Han has served on several nonprofit organizations, including city economic development committees in Fairview Heights and St. Louis and cultural advocacy groups.
Whether it’s with a company or nonprofit, Han is making a positive change in people’s lives. “My guiding principle is to treat people as I want to be treated, personally and professionally.” based on his moto, “Team Work Makes Dream Work!”
President & CEO — USAKO Group