Dwight Neptune was studying electrical engineering when he picked up drone making as a hobby in high school. Little did he realize that his hobby would morph into establishing a drone company at the age of 18.
He is now the CEO of a drone startup, Beagle Drones. “I wanted to build something that people enjoy and saw FPV as the entryway to building really cool tech products,” he told CNBC.
Together with his friends, Neptune created a prototype of FPV drone off-the-shelf parts. They later sold it in May 2017 to test the market. It worked for him and his colleagues and that was how he created Beagle Drones.
He later dropped out of Mercer County Community College to work as full-time CEO of Beagle Drones. In October 2020, the company said it was on track to make $100,000 in sales that year. According to Neptune, he is working to raise $1 million at a $4 million valuation.
Neptune is envisaging some challenges in terms of raising funds to finance the company’s operation. His fear is well-grounded as multiple publications have pointed out the difficulties Black founders encounter in raising venture capital.
According to Harvard Business Review, Black founders received less than 1 percent of venture capital. Also, 81% of venture capital funds have no Black investors while 70% of VCs are White and only 3% are Black.
“I’ve been with several VCs, angel funds, and nine times out of 10, I’m the only Black founder there,” Neptune told CNBC. “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.”
Neptune dreams of becoming one of the household names in the tech space and one of the first Black founders to pull off a billion-dollar tech company. On its website, Beagle says it operates on the concept: “A one-stop shop for beginners to experience drone racing.” “It’s easy,” it says, adding: “We do all the hard work, so you don’t have to.”
The New Jersey-based company which sells two different drones — priced at $130 and $400 — released its third drone, NOVA, on Kickstarter last November. NOVA is described as “a ready-to-fly, FPV drone equipped with a built-in 4k camera and lightweight cyberpunk shell design.” Its lightweight design makes it ideal for travel and for both indoor and outdoor flight.