Entrepreneurship School Nears Opening of Ain Design and Technology Hub 

Students Connect with Local Business for Graphic Design Needs


Jessica Piland

Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship

Asbaa Khan, Contributing Writer

Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship at FGCU developed a partnership to create the Ain Design and Technology Hub. Mark Ain, the retired CEO and founder of Kronos, is planning to donate $2 million over five years to help create the design hub.

“I think it’s amazing how the school and Mark Ain are working together because it allows for a lot of connections,” Michelle Balcazar, a junior majoring in entrepreneurship and minoring in marketing, said. “I think it’s important for a lot of students to have that connection because they get to hear from people who have experience.”

The Ain Design and Technology Hub will have student interns helping local businesses update their logos, websites, or any other graphic design needs. The hub will charge the business for the students’ service, and funds will be used to pay the students and the remaining profit will be used for scholarships.

“[Mark Ain] could understand why it was important,” Sandra Kauanui, director of the School of Entrepreneurship, said. “When I met him and we started working, I told him about this idea that I had, and he liked it. He thought it was a great mission.”

“I think it is needed,” Mark Ain said. “I really think it takes the university to the next stage.”

The hub will also help the local community learn more about the school and engage with people in the program. 

“It’s a win-win for our students, and that’s the most important thing to me,” Kauanui said. By working in the hub part-time, students will gain experience and learn how to work with clients.

According to Kauanui, she came up with the idea because of student demand for a program like this.

“I think it’s very, very beneficial for people that don’t know how and need the help for it,” Balcazar said. “I think that is a great way to connect with other businesses and help students learn about something that they want to do in the future.” 

Balcazar said that she would be interested in working in the hub if there was a training experience that would help her learn how to work with the businesses and create the materials that they need.

“I think it would definitely expand my knowledge by watching someone else do it,” Balcazar said. “It will not only be to benefit me. While I’m learning all this, I could possibly teach someone else.”

Through the School of Entrepreneurship’s partnership with Ain, the students at the school were able to hear him speak on Feb. 28 about his book Not Just in Time. During the 90-minute question and answer session, students heard about his journey and life as an entrepreneur, which included founding a company, Kronos, that created the time clocks that are used for workforce management.

“I really liked it; it was very cool seeing how throughout his entire life he had so many experiences and so many accomplishments as well,” Balcazar said. “I also like hearing how he kept his business. He tried to have a family culture, and I really like that because I want to keep things small when I run my business.”

Kauanui says she loved the book, too.

“I think it is very important to hear the story because it is a very real story of how he built it,” Kauanui said. “He put all of his efforts into talking about how he hired all these people who made a difference and helped grow the business.”

Ain says he had a wonderful time interacting with students during the session.

“My impression is that the students are very hardworking, and the culture of getting them to actually start companies is great,” Ain said.

Ain contributes the reason why he donated $2 million to the FGCU Entrepreneurship Program is because of the work Kauanui does as the director.

“I live right across the lake from the university; I see the sun rising over the university every morning, and I just think that she has done an incredible job growing it,” Ain said. “I have talked about her motto at other schools in the country, but they just don’t get it, but I think this motto of creating business plans and presenting them to businesspeople is great.”

The school plans to open the hub sometime next school year, most likely in the fall semester, according to Kauanui.

“We need time to get organized,” Kauanui said. “The greatest challenge is getting it going now and getting the work done.”

The funds that Ain donated will go towards buying equipment and covering overhead costs.

“That’s what you have to do when you have a startup; you need the seed funding, and then you get it started,” Kauanui said. “We will be able to make profits a lot quicker because there will be enough to cover the fixed cost.” 

The donation will not only help pay students early in the creation of the hub, but by generating profits faster, it will help get money for scholarships sooner. According to Kauanui, Ain’s contribution will be used to create something that will last after the five-year donation period.

“In the future, he will be very proud to see the positive impact it makes on the students and the community,” Kauanui said.