3D Robotics: Custom Made drones in San Diego and Tijuana

Jordi Muñoz, founder of the company, tells his story and the benefits of the Border

The entrepreneur has always been all for working with Open Source software, given that by sharing his information openly, he would receive a generous reciprocity. Those who have collaborated with the code development for 3D Robotics do it with genuine interest and the work they do is of the highest quality. Counting with an open invitation to participate in the code development also helped with the company's promotion, creating a sort of automatic and self sustaining marketing strategy, making the company be recognized worldwide by other members of the technological community.

Who purchases the products of "3D Robotics"? Engineers, Teachers, Students, Entrepreneurs... There is a wide market. Jordi Muñoz explained that among the more important buyers are universities. There are also buyers who purchase their products as a hobby, be it the fully functional drone or the parts to build one themselves. The drone can be used as air support for agriculture, real estate, firemen, policemen, rescue teams and many more, given that when the drone has a camera mounted on, it can provide vision when flying in hard to reach areas. A fully functional and ready to use kit is around $700 dollars.

Working with a mix of elements from San Diego and Tijuana gave them an opportunity to compete with large producers like China. After they started cloning the programming code, the "3D Robotics" team opened their offices in Tijuana, thus increasing their production immensely. The company has grown to such an extent that Chris Anderson resigned his job as editor of "Wired" magazine, a job he had for nearly 12 years, becoming the company's CEO instead.

Jordi Muñoz mentioned that it was much easier to establish the company in the United States than it was in Mexico. The company was basically established over night, and although there were some fiscal issues, they were able to make an arrangement with the authorities so they could have everything in order, something that you can't really do in Mexico. Guillermo Romero, who is coordinating the company's activities in Tijuana was the one who suffered with the paperwork on the south side of the border, "The are completely unforgiving, everything is bureaucracy, but the moment they know we're an American based company they start showing us respect" Muñoz mentioned.

The young entrepreneur caught the United States government attention given that his company has been importing talent, a subject that he discussed with President Barack Obama last May, during the President's visit to Mexico. He mentioned that he was hoping that the young talent that had migrated would some day return to Mexico to help create positive changes, be it establishing new companies, generating new jobs, so that alongside with other entrepreneurs, they can lead the government into developing better conditions for Mexico.

*Courtesy 3D Robotics
*Courtesy 3D Robotics

Jordi Muñoz made a strong point mentioning that for entrepreneurs like him, counting on a quality postal service was of the utmost importance, a service that is desperately needed in Mexico. The shipping costs for sending products as well as other materials, the way the packages are handled, all of this impacts the relationship between producer and consumer, and currently in Mexico the shipping costs can sometimes be more than the product itself, and this can end a potential sale.

One of the greater advantages that "3D Robotics" counts with is that they are able to sell unique products and in small quantities. This is due to them being able to work at the border, without having to rely of making bulk orders for the materials they use.

Speaking of the possibilities for the technological community in Tijuana, Jordi Muñoz mentioned that they have really unique opportunities. "We are at the most beautiful border, we're next to San Diego, no other border city has what San Diego has to offer, a gorgeous city that counts with everything you need, people have the advantage that if you want to open a business, even as a Mexican you can do it, you can cross over and ship from San Diego, all of us who grew up in Tijuana have a very "Americanized" way of thinking, with access to technology at a reasonable price, we are indeed at a higher level, technologically speaking".

He also added that Tijuana has all the aspects necessary to create a technological enterprise: Engineers, capable laborers and materials at a fair price, and quality tools that can be improved upon being so close to the United States. As advice to the "Start Up" community or those inclined for the technological disciplines, he recommends starting simple: Develop the product first, then worry about creating the company, working first on what you need now and not what you think you're going to need later.

A stroke of good luck? Jordi didn't speak about the formula to "3D Robotics" success. "I don't know, I guess being at the right place at the right time, there was a lot going on around me that I wasn't even aware of at the time, but somehow I took advantage of them". The technological boom that has been going on in the past decade made it easy for him to get the components necessary. A 3D Robotics drone uses sensors similar to those found on video game consoles and smart phones, which has made the cost of these materials to be much more accessible, benefiting both producers and consumers.

"3D Robotics" already has several plans for the near future. The young entrepreneur mentioned that in the next few years he expects the company to be fully consolidated, offering more specialized and easier to use products. The company currently counts with over 70 employees in their offices in San Diego, Tijuana and Berkeley.

Brenda.Colon@sandiegored.com

Daniel.Aguilar@sandiegored.com

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