RFID start-up attracts software talent

Co-founded by a Standord professor and a former SAP exec, TrueDemand launches with $6 million in venture funding.
Written by Alorie Gilbert, Contributor on
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A new Silicon Valley software start-up specializing in radio frequency identification came out of stealth mode on Monday with plans to tackle some of the retail industry's thorniest problems.

TrueDemand, based in Los Gatos, Calif., is backed by $6 million in venture funding from Mayfield and Bay Partners. The company's founders are Hau Lee, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and former SAP executive Raymond Blanchard. Blanchard was previously director of business development for SAP's radio frequency identification, or RFID, unit.

The company plans to begin shipping its first products by the end of the year. The software will analyze data generated by RFID tags--tiny radio devices that broadcast unique serial numbers and may someday replace bar codes, TrueDemand said. Big names in retail and consumer goods, including Albertsons, Gillette, Proctor & Gamble, Target and Wal-Mart Stores, are experimenting with using RFID to keep closer tabs on their merchandise.

TrueDemand and a host of competitors are seeking to profit from the retail industry's current enthusiasm for the technology. The start-up says its software will help chain stores and merchandise suppliers reduce stock-outs and inventory build-ups by turning "RFID-generated data into actionable information."

The company's chief executive officer, Eric Peters, hails from warehouse-software maker Manhattan Associates and business-consulting firm Accenture. One of the firm's senior scientists, Li Chen, used to work at WalMart.com, where he dealt with supply chain technology. Other big brains at the company include a two-time NASA Ames award winner and a retired chief information officer from Procter & Gamble who's an adviser to the firm.

TrueDemand has developed several patent-pending algorithms, which form the basis of its programs.


Correction: This article incorrectly reported the name of a co-founder of software maker TrueDemand. The correct name is Hau Lee.

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