“If I see an opportunity where I can make a difference, I want to make it.” That’s the mindset of Dynamic Drone Solution Co-founder Dewayne Yarbrough, a retired U.S. Marine whose Lexington, KY-based drone company provides sustainable growth to veterans through drone training.
seedership spoke with Dewayne about how his company created an innovative and purpose-driven way to give back to veterans and the business community.
Dynamic Drone Solution (DDS) has created an ideal partnership where veterans receive a valued, marketable and relatable skill and corporate sponsors can give back to those who have served our country. How did you develop this business model?
DEWAYNE YARBROUGH: When I finished my service with the U.S. Marines, I wanted to be part of a community again. I wanted to receive that value system many of us desire, doing work with a sense of purpose and contributing to something greater than myself. That’s how I felt when I was with the Marines. In some ways, I wanted that feeling again, but from a civilian perspective.
For veterans transitioning back to civilian life, it is a crucible to be out of an environment that, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, is 100% serious and with intention. That intense experience can cause an individual to live their life in an extremely specific way. When you come back home, every day is not always that serious. It takes a lot of self-searching to flip the switch. You must be open and willing to investigate opportunities outside your norm and expertise.
When I was transitioning to civilian life and looking for work, I noticed a need for more opportunities for veterans and awareness of the challenges we may face in transitioning to the civilian workplace. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make a difference in our business community, and I wanted to provide a more impactful, sustainable employment opportunity for veterans.
What makes drone pilot training a good solution?
DEWAYNE: Veterans are unique in the way they’re trained, for efficient, precision and problem-resolution, and the skills they come home with such as surveying, logistics, operations, videography, and inspections. When we talk about using drones for delivery transportation, we’re talking about things flying in the air for commerce. Companies can benefit from the military mindset of being focused on productivity and safety.
Drone piloting is also a great solution for veterans, particularly those who may no longer be able to carry a heavy pack and run but are still capable of doing some type of work. Veterans can feel purposeful by learning a new skillset that’s easy on their body. They can contribute to the society they live in and, whether they’re male or female, they can provide for their family.
What is the service you offer veterans?
When we started DDS, we decided to offer four-week training courses at no charge to our brothers and sisters in the military. They’ve already paid a price on behalf of our country. They’ve already paid their ticket for admission with our company. We sponsor them 100% and we also offer corporate sponsorship to individual companies, small businesses or corporations that are seeking ways to both show appreciation and make an impact in the lives of our servicemen and women.
Our sponsorship program creates a bridge to help others who have paid that price of servitude—they can sponsor a hero’s training to gain in-demand, marketable skills. Our school enables veterans to receive their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification with 120 hours of instruction and more than 25 flight hours—more importantly, we create a unit that offers support, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging as they readjust to civilian life.
The sponsorship opportunities are a unique way for companies to do good and share in the experience. Of course, we love that your website says, “By choosing to sponsor, you will be planting a seed that will grow into something wonderful.”
DEWAYNE: Absolutely. You’re talking about individuals who have given their all to serve their country. Now that they’re back and they’re learning to adapt and transition, this is a powerful opportunity for everyone.
It also enables the sponsors to not only see their return on investment but also truly see the impact of helping a veteran transition back to civilian life.
DEWAYNE: Our business model aligns with our objectives. It benefits our business by building a drone community, supporting our veterans, and providing opportunities for other companies with similar business objectives.
We lead the way by example. We sponsor as well. We believe in servant leadership. We feel a pathway should be open for corporations to be able to express that and show their support for our nation.
Nearly 30% of veterans have a difficult reentry experience. What challenges do they face?
DEWAYNE: The challenge is that one day you’re responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of equipment, you’re giving orders, you are trusted and depended on, and what you say matters, while the next day everyone is questioning your abilities, asking what you’ve done, and not understanding that you can’t share a lot of that information.
Another challenge for veterans who are back in the civilian world, is that many have been injured or disabled or need support dealing with their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They need routine VA appointments. Some employers aren’t flexible with them taking that time off but it’s imperative to their good mental health.
Any advice for other small business owners about incorporating a giveback element in their growth model?
DEWAYNE: Here’s one way to look at it: One day there were three people waiting at the bus stop named Everybody, Somebody and Nobody. They were standing around when a veteran at red light was hit by a car. Everybody said, “I would love to help but I’m running late. Somebody’s going to help.” So, Everybody left.
Somebody saw the vet and said, “I really want to help, but my ride is here. I’m sure there won’t be Nobody who comes by. I’m sure he’ll be helped.” Nobody saw the veteran, knew what he should do, but kept walking.
I don’t want to be any of those three. If I see a way to help, I’m going to help. That’s what DDS is doing. We’re going forward, being candid, and looking someone in the eye and telling them what they can expect.
You mentioned you believe in the idea of servant leadership. What does that mean to you?
DEWAYNE: I like that question. It’s the only way I want to live. It’s the only way I want to proceed in life. Servant leadership is about having a serve-first mindset. Success is based on empowering and uplifting others and strengthening the communities where you belong. It’s the leadership style that works best for me and fuels me with a sense of purpose.
What motivates you to encourage others to “plant seeds that grow”?
DEWAYNE: I want to be a blessing to others, as I have been blessed myself. I would always like to be a conduit for something that brings progression.
Thank you, Dewayne, for taking time to share with us your entrepreneurial journey and how you are making a difference in the lives of our servicemen and women.
The next course for drone training takes flight next week — April 26 to May 21 —with 30 veteran participants. To learn more about sponsorship packages and how you can be part of a hero’s journey into civilian life, visit https://www.dynamicdronesolution.com/sponsorships or email firstname.lastname@example.org.