Meet Dwight Neptune, a 22-year-old college dropout who founded drone start-up Beagle Drones at the age of 18.
Neptune began studying electrical engineering in high school and picked up drones as a hobby. He “wanted to build something that people enjoy and saw FPV as the entryway to building really cool tech products.” FPV, or first person view, drones are more agile than traditional drones and allow the user to get video footage that would be physically impossible with other types of drones.
Neptune and his co-founders built the prototype with off-the-shelf parts and sold it at cost in May 2017 to test the market. After three semesters, Neptune dropped out of Mercer County Community College to pursue Beagle Drones full time as CEO.
Now, three years later, the New Jersey-based company sells two different drones, priced at $130 and $400, and is on track for $100,000 in sales in 2020, according to Neptune. He’s in the process of raising $1 million at a $4 million valuation, he says.
Raising money as a Black founder is “weird,” Neptune notes. “I’ve been with several VCs, angel funds, and nine times out of 10, I’m the only Black founder there.”
He aims to foster an accepting and diverse culture at Beagle. “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 puts in long days, working from 7 a.m. to midnight or later. “There’s not much of a social life when you’re a founder,” he says. “The reality is you have to outwork as many people as you can.”
But he has big ambitions: Neptune wants to be one of the first Black founders to pull off a billion-dollar tech company.
Watch the video above to learn more about his experience as a young CEO, and how he’s built a drone company from the ground up.