Founder and CEO of Trumbull
The Douglas L. Foshee Future Texas Legend Veteran Award, 2020
The Texas Business Hall of Fame had the pleasure of speaking with Dyan Gibbens, Co-Founder and CEO of Trumbull. Trumbull is a Certified Veteran (SDVOSB), Woman (WBE/WOB), Minority (MBE) Small Business that integrates safe UAS technology into sustainable solutions via drones. Fun fact: Dyan co-founded Trumbull with her husband, Jeffrey, the 2016 TBHF Chairman’s Scholarship award winner. It’s safe to say the entrepreneurial spirit runs in their family.
Founded in 2013, Trumbull is a drone enabled ESG data provider serving energy and government to enhance environmental sustainability. Since starting Trumbull, Dyan has amassed an impressive roster of clients – their first client was Exxon Mobil – and today they have 40+ contracts with companies all over the world.
Dyan, the 2020 Douglas L. Foshee Future Texas Legend Veteran Award recipient spoke to us about her entrepreneurial experience in an exclusive interview.
How did you get the idea for your business?
Dyan, a 10th generation Texan, discovered a passion for aerospace navigation at an early age. Her father was an FAA controller and her mother was a teacher. Dyan recognized that education was a powerful tool, and coupled with her desire to serve and fly, she saw a unique opportunity.
“Since inception, Trumbull has aimed to support environmental sustainability by using technology and data driven decisions. Working closely with supermajors, we helped create the market for unmanned aerial systems in the oil & gas industry in the U.S,” explains Dyan.
How has your community influenced your entrepreneurial experience? And how do you give back to your community?
Trumbull has been a huge supporter of various programs both locally in Texas and nation-wide to support and empower STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Dyan has participated in NASA STEM talks over the past year. Trumbull partners with colleges such as Rice, A&M, SMU and Yale to offer student camps and educational opportunities.
Dyan is particularly interested in reaching 3 target audiences: young girls and women, children of military families, and underrepresented youth. “I relate to those areas personally and recognize the opportunity STEM presents for those groups. Our goal is to showcase how technology can solve some of the world’s problems. Areas we support include vocational training for underrepresented youth and using technology to find and create jobs.”
In addition to working with students, Trumbull also serves on the Global Partnership on Ai and Google AI Council. “For the future of national security, STEM is a true enabler and our biggest tool to support that.”
How do you define “excellence” in business?
Much of Dyan’s approach to business is inspired by her service in the US Air Force.
“We as a company follow the pursuit of excellence. Tying that back to the Airfare Academy core values: integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do. Excellence in all we do is core to who I am and that’s how we run our business. We are service oriented, client focused, and we aim for excellence. As a cadet when you are 18, 20 years old, you don’t fully realize it. As you mature [those values] continue to ring true.”
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
“I aim to make an impact and do that by solving problems and adding value. That’s why clients approach us and we are sought after. That service drives me. We aim to be that go-to company and work together with clients to solve problems.”
What has been the greatest lesson you have learned so far in your career?
Dyan cites Anthony DeToto, former Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, as a guiding inspiration.
“DeToto was one of our closest friends and mentors, and he passed away in November 2020. He would consistently say, “if not me, then who?” That’s stayed with me. Step up and serve. If you see a need and you have the skillset – you address it. You arrive at those solutions together. You do that by starting with common ground. Developing trust. Client trust is paramount to developing strategy, testing new technology, and taking calculated risks to reduce exposure and increase safety.”
Can you share a time when you failed or faced a challenge and how you overcame that?
Dyan recounts a story of turning a complicated job into an opportunity to build lasting trust with a client.
“In 2015, we supported a data collection and analysis effort when system and sensor delivery delays, coupled with unverified specifications of new technology before use in the field, led to an extended period of performance over the estimated duration.
Specifications were listed in best case scenario, ideal conditions, no wind, etc.; coupled with delayed deliveries, we were unable to verify firsthand specifications on scope beforehand, which resulted in the project taking longer to collect data than estimated.”
Despite the setbacks and unforeseen complications, Trumbull finished the job, at no extra cost to the client, recognizing that this was an important moment in the client relationship: “I’m proud to say that today we are a preferred vendor for this client. We collected data as recently as last week and continue to value this partnership.”
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
As a passionate advocate for STEM, Dyan is extremely proud of the work she has done with students across the state of Texas, teaching them about drones. But her favorite moments involve her children.
“Having my son Trey with me at Drone camp. He flew in front of 4,000 Houston ISD students in Rice stadium. And having my daughter with me when I spoke at NASA. Sharing those moments with them is incredibly special.”
What are your goals and plans for the future?
“Growth and disruption. We aim to disrupt the industry with new partnerships and expand our current offerings. I’m excited about our government initiatives. We are currently working on a program to use drones to help track, identity, and fight wildfires on the west coast.
I’m also proud to be working with the US Air Force Academy as research support. As a Prime strategic advisor for the Air Force, Trumbull is advising on fixed key initiatives that are imperative to national security, with a focus on peace and prosperity.”
How has TBHF helped you with your entrepreneurial journey? “The organization has connected me with leaders and innovators that I otherwise might not have met. That has helped increase my confidence in our potential. No path is easy but getting those tools and techniques is invaluable. The support and access has also been extremely helpful. Having the opportunity to ask innovators and Legends about areas where they’ve grown, failed, or succeeded is tremendous as a growing company.”