Ed Mandy was like many South Dakota School of Mines & Technology alumni; he loved the Black Hills, but the opportunities available for a software engineer in the late 90s in Rapid City were slim to none. Off to Minneapolis he went, where he worked for a corporation and started his family.
“My story isn’t much different from a majority of the people I graduated with,” said Mandy. “There was only a handful of my class that actually had the chance, or even thought they had the opportunity, to stay in Rapid City.”
Years later, Mandy took the opportunity to work remotely for a company based in Hong Kong, China and relocate his family to the community of his alma mater. At the same time, his brother-in-law – Andrew Pavek – was ready for something new as the company he was with closed their doors. Working together on DIY gaming systems as a hobby, the two saw the chance to launch their own business in the spring of 2014.
7400 Circuits is known for their contract work with companies wanting to outsource software and electrical engineering projects and tasks – specifically, those related to circuit boards. During an open house at Ascent Innovation, the business duo was introduced to an incubator setting and it was an obvious solution to the startup of their new technology-focused venture. A successful kickstarter campaign in 2017 moved 7400 Circuits forward at full speed.
“Over the years, we’ve been able to collaborate with several businesses in the surrounding area, some of which are currently in Ascent Innovation or are previous tenants,” said Pavek.
From creating circuit board designs for 3D printers to tackling software programs for various companies (throughout a variety of industries), 7400 Circuits was ready to launch the next step in their business venture: gaming.
Mandy dabbled in a DIY hobby of retro gaming systems for years, but when the demand for his systems increased, a product line from 7400 Circuits emerged under the name Freeplay Tech. A custom circuit board and DIY kit is created to fit into the shell of any Gameboy Advance system, giving a vintage look to a modern computer.
“When I graduated, I thought my only option was to move somewhere else; I didn’t even think about starting my own company,” said Mandy. “Now, with the growth of Ascent Innovation, we are excited for a shift in the view of technology in Rapid City and the opportunities visible to students in our area.”
From humble beginnings in a 100-square-foot office space at Ascent Innovation, 7400 Circuits has expanded to a larger 850-square foot office, adding machinery and interns and establishing new goals. It’s clear that the future is looking bright for this niche-focused company.
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