Office of University Relations
SDSM& T News
501 E. St. Joseph Street • Rapid City, SD 57701- 3995
Phone: ( 605) 394- 6082/ 2554 • Fax: ( 605) 394- 6177
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
( February 13, 1998)
SOUTH DAKOTA BUSINESS WITH SDSM& T ROOTS SUPPLIES SOFTWARE TO SILICON VALLEY COMPANIES
Dakota Scientific Software, Inc. ( DSS) proves that a small, high- tech company can succeed in Silicon Valley’s highly competitive computer industry while being based in South Dakota. A small business that started at SDSM& T and still is located on the campus, has created high- wage, high- tech jobs in South Dakota.
Diane ( M. S. CompSci ’ 91) and Mike Boucher ( M. S. CompSci ’ 91), both South Dakota School of Mines & Technology alumni, began the software company seven years ago. Now the business supplies high- speed math libraries for Sun Microsystems and several other high- performance computer companies.
Diane and Mike, president and vice president respectively, founded the company in December 1990 on a shoestring budget with $ 10,000 of their own money and $ 16,000 from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development ( GOED). Dakota Scientific focused on applying advanced supercomputer technology to develop the fastest math software available for desktop computers.
The Bouchers attribute some of their company’s growth and success to the assistance received from SDSM& T officials and GOED. The company’s start- up funds were used to hire Tech faculty members and four students to further develop their software product featuring an optimized math library.
DSS succeeded in developing the fastest math library available for Sun’s UNIX workstations. Despite having an excellent product, the new company’s first couple of years were lean. Initial marketing efforts did not produce the anticipated software sales.
The company’s first break came when Australia’s America Cup team approached the Bouchers about using their software as the exclusive linear algebra supplier for One Australia. The exposure of DSS’s product during the America Cup brought Fujitsu officials from Japan to Rapid City to visit the Bouchers about licensing their software. Having no experience in dealing with Japanese businesses, the Bouchers again turned to SDSM& T officials for assistance. “ President Gowen was a wealth of advice. His knowledge of Japanese business was extremely helpful,” said Mike Boucher.
The Bouchers decided not to turn over their technology to Fujitsu and instead made the decision to go full time with the business. Mike Boucher states the real value of the technical assistance provided by SDSM& T and other officials was not so much the actual dollars received, but the contacts and referrals within the local business community. He compares the technical assistance that DSS received to a “ high- tech barn raising.”
After putting a solid business plan in place, the Bouchers successfully pursued and obtained funding from the Rapid City Economic Development Revolving Loan program and an SBA- guaranteed loan from Pioneer Bank and Trust. The DSS owners emphasize that a good business plan is critical to a company’s success.
“ The problems in business are not lack of money or access to capital,” says Mike Boucher. “ If a company has a good business plan, it will have access to the capital it needs.”
After taking two accounts away from its main competitor ( Cray Research), Dakota Scientific started to grow. In 1994 Sun Microsystems, which had 90% of the market and was still growing, bought the rights to license
Dakota Scientific’s software as a high performance math library. After licensing some additional compiler vendors operating in the UNIX market, DSS expanded its products and services available to the high- performance computing market. Dakota Scientific’s growth has resulted in additional jobs being created. The company currently has twelve employees, all of whom are Tech alumni.
In addition to its products for Sun’s UNIX systems, DSS’s math libraries have proven to be the fastest for the Windows 95, Windows NT, Solaris and Solaris/ x86 markets. Customers of Apogee Software, Quadrics Supercomputers, and Edinburgh Portable Compilers are just a few of the many people to whom DSS supplies high- speed math libraries.
DSS also does consulting work for vendors who contract with the company to work with key suppliers. This contracting work includes optimizing large- scale scientific and engineering codes such as structural analysis applications for major CAD vendors whose products simulate car crashes for Chrysler and airplane stresses during flight for Boeing.
Dakota Scientific also is just completing a three- year research contract with Los Alamos National Laboratory to support work in simulated nuclear bomb testing under the provisions of the comprehensive test ban treaty. DSS also is a co- developer with Los Alamos Laboratory of a supercomputing framework to be used by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories to run computer applications that support stewardship of the nuclear stockpile, weapons design, climate modeling and other missions of national importance.
Persevering through the challenges, risks and uncertainties of owning their own business, the Bouchers have steered DSS to an impressive growth these past seven years. The collaboration between DSS and SDSM& T works quite well. In addition to helping teach some classes and to leasing part of its space on the Tech campus, the Bouchers also provide SDSTech faculty and staff with access to DSS’s high- performance computers.
SDSM& T and DSS are a good match. Dakota Scientific provides good, high- wage jobs for the local economy. Tech produces high- quality computer science graduates that DSS needs.
Mike Boucher calls Rapid City a good place for high- tech companies like DSS to be based. Local governments and economic development officials are cooperative. Recruiting qualified and talented people is relatively easy. A good infrastructure, coupled with Internet access and overnight shipping services like Federal Express, allows DSS to conduct business anywhere in the nation. Many Tech alumni want to return to South Dakota and are available if a company is interested. Taxes, real estate and other business expenses are relatively low compared to other regions of the country. One DSS employee who relocated from San Jose reports that he has more spending power in Rapid City even though he is earning 3/ 4 of his former salary in California— and he is much happier!
Dakota Scientific’s success connects the high- tech, entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley to South Dakota. In addition, the high- wage, computer- techology jobs created by the company allow some of South Dakota Tech’s graduates to stay in South Dakota and utilize their quality education. Additional information about DSS can be obtained by calling 800- 641- 8851 or ( 605) 394- 8851 or by accessing the company’s web site at www. scisoft. com.
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