Published On: Mon, Jan 13th, 2014

From bum to millionaire : The story of Jordi Muñoz

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Jordi Muñoz is an ordinary 27 year old Mexican who overcame many obstacles such as being rejected by the Mexican system of higher education, escaped from a broken home, got mediocre jobs and got lost in love. Now he uses his talent to develop robots.

JORDI-MUÑOZ-011-300x336His first job was at the airport in Mexico City, where he did several kinds of works but did not last long. Jordi Muñoz had a hidden talent: he was always good for computers. “He was interested in space and aeronautics,” says one of his best friends who knows him since elementary school.

When he submitted a new test for the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico (IPN) and got rejected for the second time, he understood that Mexico City only offered him a future of minimum wage and chaotic traffic, so he decided to go back to Tijuana.

In a difficult environment between his broken family and the news that he was about to become a father, Jordi went up to the U.S. He married an American citizen and moved to Riverside, Calif., in 2007. While waiting for his green card, the 21-year-old was marooned in his apartment, unable to work, attend school or obtain a driver’s license.

On the other hand, he had an Internet connection. A Nintendo Wii. A radio-controlled toy helicopter his mother had given him to help kill time.

Tinkering with the Wii’s control wand and a $60 gyroscope he had purchased on eBay, he modified the helicopter to fly itself, just like the $5 million Predator unmanned aerial vehicles deployed by the U.S. military.

He caught the attention of a Swiss company and Chris Anderson, former editor in chief of the world ‘s most influential tech magazine. His luck finally changed.

Five years later, Mr. Munoz is co-founder and CEO of 3D Robotics, a San Diego-based company that has 18 employees and earned more than $300,000 in revenue in December 2013, producing components for hobbyist drones.

“The first time I was able to successfully fly with my autopilot was one of the happiest days of my life,” said Mr. Munoz, now 25. “The whole thing cost less than $200. Believe me, that was a lot of money for me at the time.”

Mr. Munoz’s vision is hardly unique. Once the stuff of science fiction, autonomous aircraft are on the verge of widespread commercial and personal use, with pending federal regulations set to integrate drones into American airspace by 2015.



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