"From the outside perspective, it seems insane that an editor would start a robotics company with a Tijuana teenager," Anderson says. "But it’s exactly the right person to start a company with." Here's how they found each other and created one of the top drone companies in just two years.
By Alyson Shontell - Business Insider
In 2012, Chris Anderson left Wired, where he had been editor-in-chief for a decade to run a startup. He had met someone online to help him run his company: Jordi Muñoz, a teenager in Tijuana, Mexico. They unlikely pair met through a drone enthusiast blog Anderson started, called DIY Drones. Since Anderson's first private message to Munoz a few years prior, they had been building flying contraptions together. The devices were a hit: their side project generated $5 million by the time Anderson was ready to leave Wired. The concept was proven, and it was time to form a venture-backed business, 3D Robotics.
"From the outside perspective, it seems insane that an editor would start a robotics company with a Tijuana teenager," Anderson says. "But it’s exactly the right person to start a company with." Here's how they found each other and created one of the top drone companies in just two years. Muñoz was born in Mexico, about an hour south of the California border. When he was four, he moved to Tijuana. He describes himself as a normal but geeky kid who loved playing with LEGOs and dreamt of being a pilot. As a teenager, he'd often rip apart computers and put them back together. He became known in his neighborhood as the repairman, helping fix tech issues for friends and family members.
By the time he was 18, Muñoz had learned to program and hoped to study aeronautical engineering at the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City. He was rejected twice, and his parents couldn't afford his pilot aspirations anyway. So he returned to Tijuana and studied computer engineering at a university in town. After just two semesters, Muñoz dropped out of school and moved the United States with his girlfriend, who would later become his wife. Then 21, Muñoz spent seven months waiting for his green card. In his spare time, he built miniature aircrafts, combining his technical background and his passion for flying.
It was around this time, in 2007, that Muñoz first appeared on Chris Anderson's radar. Anderson had fallen in love with a new kind of hardware, drones, which were taking over the robotics industry. One perk of working for Wired was all the cool gadgets strewn around the office. If editors promised to write reviews of the gizmos, they were allowed to take them home and test them. Anderson began bringing home robots to build and test with his five children. The robots would roll around and run into walls, which was sort of cool, but it occurred to Anderson that a cooler contraption would be a robot that could fly.
The then-editor-in-chief began to Google "flying robots" and found do-it-yourself (DIY) models. He purchased a LEGO one and built it with his kids. His wife filmed their early test flights. When their drone actually took off, Anderson got chills. "I don't get chills very often," Anderson says. "I got chills when I saw the first web browser in '92 or '93. I probably got chills the first time I used a mobile phone. I get them every 20 years or so. I don't really get like that unless I'm in the presence of something freaky and new, and this was just one of those moments." READ MORE