Now CEO of his own innovation strategy consultancy, Detroit-native Alton B. Gunn really loves being an entrepreneur. In fact, he has been an entrepreneur since high school. Since obtaining his masters of science in innovation management and entrepreneurship (IME MS) from Temple University summa cum laude, he’s even more equipped to counsel his clients.
As a college student at Florida A&M University, Alton ran a pest control company that served the school, while also serving as President of the Michigan Club. After college, he and his friends started the nonprofit Third Eye Incorporated to uplift the city of Detroit. Under his leadership as CEO, the team raised millions of dollars, which was used to mentor youth, beautify public spaces, provide scholarships to local students, adopt impoverished families and purchase foreclosed properties to fix up and give away to families in need. Third Eye also provided financial services in the community. His experience leading the organization gave Alton the confidence to next start his own mortgage brokerage, The Equity Alliance. As President and CEO, he led the company to obtain builders and real estate brokers licenses. Over nine years, he supervised 72 employees and was responsible for more than $350 million in transactions.
When the real estate bubble burst in 2008, Alton knew he needed to adapt again. After a lifelong friend was promoted to hospital President at the Detroit Medical Center (“DMC”), Alton joined his team to serve as the Director of Public Relations, and later, as Director of Communication of Business Development and Customer Service. Seven years later, Alton had become an expert in finance, nonprofits, real estate, marketing and healthcare, but was unable to advance at DMC because he lacked a graduate degree. Although he considered going to graduate school at that time, he instead took on his next challenge and founded his consulting company, Craftworks, LLC.
He commented on this decision: “People can tell you why they don’t value who you are, but you need to value yourself. I saw how the community embraced me during my career and I knew I could successfully serve businesses with my strategy skills.”
Alton ultimately was inspired to pursue a master’s degree by his nephew.
“I had tried to always serve as a role model for him and teach him everything I know about life,” Gunn says. “He got a master’s in sports management after college, and now it was my turn to learn from his example.”
He chose the Temple IME MS program for several reasons. Throughout his career, he had acquired many of the skills an MBA would offer, and he wanted to learn about a specific field. He was attracted to the course descriptions and instructor experience and qualifications. Temple also made it easy to apply by waiving the standardized test scores based on his work experience.
In the IME program, he learned how to take an innovation “from ideation to IPO.” The concepts, skills and coursework validated Alton’s past entrepreneurial decisions but also taught him why those decisions were right at the time. He learned what techniques and tools are available, where to find them and how to use them, not only in his own business but also to help his clients. Perhaps his favorite part of the program was that the courses required him to practice these new skills and concepts on real companies, such as through the capstone consulting project. Alton plans to stay involved with the IEI’s competitions because he still has many entrepreneurial ideas (all of our competitions are open to any Temple alumni).
For more information on Craftworks or to contact Alton B. Gunn, please call 313-850-5221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the website at www.craftworksadvantage.com for more detailed information.