Gift launches design and technology hub in entrepreneurship

4 – minute read

Mark Ain, founder and retired CEO of Kronos Incorporated, understands what it takes to create and grow a business. His quintessential success story is building a small startup company into a multibillion-dollar corporation serving clients worldwide.


Clearly, Ain knows what he’s talking about when he discusses entrepreneurship, so his praise of Florida Gulf Coast University’s entrepreneurship school truly speaks to its merit: “They integrate practical down-to-earth experiences with the course offerings. Students write business plans reviewed by fellow students and their mentors. They start businesses. It’s fabulous,” he said.

Ain’s belief in the curriculum and how well it prepares graduates for success inspired him to pledge $2 million to FGCU to create the Ain Technology and Design Hub within the Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship.


Sandra Kauanui, the school’s founding director, can’t say enough about how Ain’s support will grow its programming.


“We’re going to purchase equipment and computers and hire students from digital media design and entrepreneurship to work as paid interns in the hub. We’re going to promote our services to the community, associations, anyone who wants an upgrade on a website, a new logo designed, anything,” she said. “We’ll pay the student interns, mentor them as they work with area businesses, and all profits will be funneled back to our scholarship fund.”


This plan is a win-win. Students have the opportunity to learn and engage in real-life experiences.  They can pursue their internship without leaving campus. They’ll be making money not only for themselves but also for scholarship funds.

photo of Mark Ain
“In America, we have an open society and an open culture,” Mark Ain said. “The entrepreneurial program feeds right into that.”

Ain is pleased with the plan, noting FGCU’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program ranked 15th in the top 50 undergraduate entrepreneurial programs nationwide for 2023 by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. It’s the highest-ranked undergraduate entrepreneurship program in Florida.

photo shows business class
Sandra Kauanui welcomes Mark Ain to a class in February.

Ain’s investment will help sustain the school’s growth trajectory. In fall 2022, 778 students were enrolled in the program, compared to 537 one year prior. In the past six years, entrepreneurship students and alumni have started over 374 businesses, raised $10.8 million in venture capital and earned more than $111 million in total gross revenue, according to Kauanui.


That entrepreneurial drive reflects the national ethos, Ain believes.


“In America, we have an open society and an open culture,” he said. “That’s one of the great things we have in this country, and the entrepreneurial program feeds right into that.”


Choosing the entrepreneurial path is rooted in a person’s internal drive to succeed, often inspired by a friend or family member, he said.

In his case, Ain’s drive to succeed was fueled partly by his grandmother, who emigrated to America at 17 to join her soon-to-be-husband. He had emigrated several years earlier, secured a job, sent for her and proposed. She told him she would not marry him until he owned his company. The couple married and launched what became a successful real estate business.

Ain never forgot that story as he pursued his entrepreneurial path. He said success is the byproduct of an overwhelming “drive to succeed.” His grandmother had it and encouraged his own.


Successful entrepreneurs identify a need and work to fulfill it. When Ain launched Kronos in 1977, workplace time clocks had not evolved much since the late 1800s. He saw a need to bring them into the 20th century. His patented microprocessor-based time clock propelled Kronos globally. Today, the company provides clients with human resource, payroll and workforce management solutions to guide clients “to achieve better business outcomes, connected workforces and happier people.”


If Ain had only one piece of advice to offer budding entrepreneurs, he said he would encourage them to involve and invest in “people who are really interested in your idea and able to advise and help you achieve your goals.”

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