Dwight Neptune never dreamed his interest in electrical engineering would morph into founding a drone company – especially not by the age of 18.
Yet there’s where Neptune, now 22, finds himself – as CEO of Beagle Drones, a New Jersey startup specializing in FPV racing drone kits.
“I wanted to build something that people enjoy and saw FPV as the entryway to building really cool tech products,” Neptune told CNBC in a recent profile.
After studying engineering in high school, Neptune gravitated towards drone kits as an all-consuming passion.
Along with some friends, Neptune created an FPV drone prototype using off-the-shelf parts. The group sold the kit in 2017 as a market test. It worked – the Beagle had landed.
From Dropout to CEO
Neptune dropped out of Mercer County Community College after three semesters to focus on building Beagle Drones and a solid base for VC funding.
“Fast forward to today and the New Jersey startup sells two different drones priced at $130 and $400. Beagle Drones is on track for $100,000 in sales this year, according to Neptune. He’s working on raising $1 million at a $4 million valuation, Neptune says.”
Beagle operates on a simple concept: “A one-stop shop for beginners to experience drone racing,” the company’s website notes. “It’s easy. We do all the hard work, so you don’t have to.”
The startup’s flagship Drone Kit 2X consists of an FPV drone, radio, battery and charger with a top speed of 99 mph. Although not designed for racing, the kit will set the stage for a beginner to learn the basics.
Beagle also markets Omnitune, a UAV software package that offers a wide menu of features and flight modes, including return-to-home, cinema and sport modes. “This means that for the first time ever, a computer is no longer required for the drone kit setup.”
Focus on Diversity
Neptune told CNBC that approaching venture capitalists can seem “weird” as a young, Black entrepreneur.
“I’ve been with several VCs, angel funds, and nine times out of 10, I’m the only Black founder there,” he said. “Our team is extremely diverse by default because our C-suite and our founding team is diverse, and it just attracts other people that want to work with a diverse group.”
STEM and Drones
The Beagle team operates as a responsible corporate citizen by offering
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