A Mexican start-up
A small dronemaker is a fine example of cross-border co-operation
FEW companies embody the spirit of Mexican-American co-operation as much as 3DRobotics, founded by a Mexican, Jordi Muoz, and an American, Chris Anderson.
The factory in Tijuana where they make their small drones is so close to the border that they could, if they were allowed, fly across to San Diego.
That is where the firm's boffins engineer them.
Mr Muoz, born a few hours south of Tijuana, grew up dreaming of building robotic flying machines, but only managed to do so after moving to California.
He says he could not have succeeded without the United States' technological prowess and entrepreneurial culture.
Yet chicanadas—the knack Mexicans reckon they have for using whatever is at hand to solve a problem—were also crucial.
He began to make progress in 2006, when the imminent launch of Apple's iPhone triggered a plunge in the cost of the motion sensors he needed to build his dream.
He found that in America he got plenty of encouragement.
Unlike Mexico, it has a culture that lets you believe you can be the best in the world, he says.
It is easy to buy supplies on eBay—and, again in contrast to Mexico, the postal system delivers them quickly and reliably.
Mexican bureaucracy makes it hard to get started: even a tiny garage start-up requires an industrial permit.
Mr Muoz says most Americans don't trust Mexicans very much;
but he credits Mr Anderson's untypical background for helping him to see beyond the racial stereotype and write a 500 cheque for Mr Muoz the first time he met him: The best 500 he's ever spent.
As for chicanadas, he says his first plastics were moulded in a toaster.
Before the firm had its own premises, Mr Muoz got some friends to assemble the drones in their kitchen.
From such humble beginnings, 3DRobotics hopes its pilotless craft will be used for anything from monitoring crops to lifeguard duties on beaches.
It's neither a San Diego firm nor a Tijuana firm, says Mr Muoz. It will always be both.