South Dakota Made: InTouch LLC offers one-of-a-kind business in the Black Hills

Published: May. 17, 2018 at 12:24 PM CDT
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Get ready to learn a little bit about virtual and augmented reality with another edition of our South Dakota Made segment. We're taking a look at a company run by School of Mines students - and one faculty member - called InTouch LLC.

Most students have a phone in their pockets, so professors use technology to teach.

"You can upload 3D models that were created in math software or maybe architectural and engineering design software. These models many times have already been created by the professors, but there's no easy way for them to be viewed and displayed by students. They upload these models to our website, where they get a code to scan with the phone or headset that will allow them to download the model on their device and view it right in front of them," InTouch LLC Software Developer Cheldon Coughlen said.

One group of School of Mines students is using that tech in big ways.

"We were approached by a non-profit working with dogs and veterans that needed to have a website and some talented peers got together with me and said we should start an LLC and do this project," InTouch LLC Founder Savoy Schuler said. "So we did and after we finished one website, word of mouth kind of got around that someone in the area was providing the software solutions for business."

The group of friends continued making more websites until a local retailer got involved and needed their help.

"Black Hills Ammo needed someone to produce a VR tour for their expo, so we did that then it kinda just made sense to keep going in the direction we were interested in and began working more with augmented reality and virtual reality," Schuler said.

Augmented reality is taking 3D models or pictures and overlaying them into the real world in your own environment.

"This can be used with special glasses or headsets or it can be used on phones and apps as well," Coughlen said.

InTouch LLC hopes to provide more entrepreneurship opportunities for students in the Black Hills.

"We're slowly helping that agenda by employing people while they're students to create these long-term opportunities that may allow them to stay on with specific companies or as demand continues to increase," Schuler.

The company hopes to stay competitive with wages and offers as the years go on.

"We've been a huge target for big tech companies," Schuler said. "Being a startup at one of the most renowned tech schools in the Midwest, we constantly have Google and Microsoft trying to snipe our talent and occasionally the business if they're interested in what we're doing."

Samuel Whitehead is the current president and CEO of InTouch LLC and enjoys the opportunities that come with joining the company.

"It's the amount of personable connections I've made in the business right now, just outside companies being able to talk and communicate with actual business leaders in the community," Whitehead said.

InTouch LLC is available to do any software-related work for any type of company around the area as well as across the country. Last year, the group of students had 5 clients and a number of contracts. This year, Whitehead and his team plan on doubling the amount of students employed to keep up with a growing list of projects.

If you're interested in joining the team or want more information on InTouch LLC, you can visit the website to the right of the article.

Next week, Kayleigh Schmidt will be taking a look at a downtown clothing boutique started by a Rapid City native.