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Q&A With Engineering Entrepreneur Student Jay Coady

Read how Jay used his time at NC State to develop and refine his venture through the help of the entrepreneurial community.

Jay Coady holding check
Jay Coady holding a check for his cash prize at the 2024 VenturePack Challenge.

Jay Coady, from Apex, North Carolina, earned his B.S. in computer engineering in May 2024 and will start his M.S. in computer engineering in August. As a senior, he participated in the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program (EEP) where he explored drone services, founding a company which created a precision drone attachment that increases the positional accuracy of drones from 10 meters down to 3 cm for a fraction of the cost of the competition. This enables small drone pilots to compete with commercial grade products in the generation of highly accurate 3D models and maps.

Jay will further develop his business venture this summer in the Andrews Launch Accelerator (ALA). His product enables individual drone pilots to compete on the commercial market. Through a portfolio of products, including AnyDroneRTK, this startup hopes to democratize access for hundreds of thousands of small commercial drone pilots in the United States.

Read more about his experience and how NC State’s entrepreneurship programs influenced his venture’s achievements and growth.

Jay Coady at the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program showcase

What inspired you to get into aerospace engineering and drones in particular?

What inspired me to get into aerospace engineering and drones is the mix of advanced technology and innovative problem-solving. I originally came to NC State hoping to pursue computer science but ended up switching into computer engineering. At the time, I had some very popular software projects and realized I had quite a disdain for programming after maintaining them for about a year.

Why did you decide to come to NC State?

I could commute from my home in Apex to save money. NC State was the best in-state university for engineering, and there weren’t any other competitively priced options for me when taking that into account.

Why did you choose to participate in the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program and what did you gain through the experience?

In March 2023, I was deciding between classes to take for senior design. I met with the Director of the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program Marshall Brain and ECE assistant professor and entrepreneurship expert Seth Hollar over lunch and shared my idea for a product. They brought up several points I hadn’t considered, such as manufacturing, supply chain and investment. In hindsight, the non-technical aspects, which aren’t covered in the engineering classes, are just as important as the technical ones when it comes to building a business, so the EEP senior design experience was the best option for me to hone my entrepreneurial skills so I can effectively launch my products.

How has NC State supported you as an entrepreneur?

The VenturePack Challenge was beneficial in allowing us to present and defend a product or idea to a panel of industry experts. It helped us refine our ideas and make our presentations clearer. The EEP was valuable for defining a product and getting feedback on our approach to design aspects. I’m looking forward to discovering what I’ll learn from the Andrews Launch Accelerator this summer.

The entrepreneurial mindset is having an idea, and being eager to pursue it. In essence, think and do. I often found that average ideas with enough “do” allows founders to figure out enough to be successful.

What are your plans post graduation?

I’ve enrolled in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)accelerated master’s program to maximize the transferable graduate courses I could take as an undergraduate. So, I have about four classes left to complete for my master’s degree. I’ll likely spread out those courses over a year while working on establishing my company. Additionally, I’m undertaking some independent studies under professors from the Jenkins MBA program in the Poole College of Management and ECE departments, focusing on my business. This summer, I’m participating in the Andrews Launch Accelerator program.

What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?

You will never get anywhere unless you try. What separates the successful from the unsuccessful is the willingness to try something new. There is value in not giving up, yet at the same time knowing when to give up when things aren’t working. Interestingly, hobbies that don’t make money sometimes spin off ideas that can.

Be Bold. Make It happen.

NC State Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides a wealth of programs and initiatives, that provide students with everything they need to bring their bright ideas to life. The Engineering Entrepreneurs Program (EEP) provides a transformational entrepreneurship education experience for students through its fully-immersive, multi-disciplinary, simulation-like learning environment. Complementing the EEP, the VenturePack Challenge allows students to present their ideas to industry experts, refining their products and pitches and earning cash to apply toward their ventures most pressing needs. Additionally, the Andrews Launch Accelerator offers further support to promising startups, providing resources and mentorship to drive their success.

At NC State, anyone can be an entrepreneur. Get started today by visiting today to find the program for you.