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Tractor Zoom: An app to hear about farm equipment sales and auctions

Tractor Zoom

Two Des Moines men believe they’ve identified a problem and have their own solution.

With a new mobile app, Tractor Zoom connects farmers with equipment auctions across the Midwest.

It’s like taking each local newspaper ads and putting them in an app.

“We don’t sell anything, we’re just a place to find it,” Tractor Zoom Founder Kyle McMahon says.

McMahon said the idea of Tractor Zoom evolved over the last 12 months and launched Nov. 1. It became his full-time job in May after working for Summit Agriculture Group buying and selling farmland for private equity funds—while developing a business plan.

And Zac Sandvig worked for Baker Group before starting as the Tractor Zoom CPA Nov. 1.

“I was going to my day job M-F, then working nights, mornings and weekends with Kyle,” Sandvig says. “Just brainstorming and figuring out the strategies about the business and where we want to take it. Eventually, we got to a point where Kyle needed me full time and I was ready to make the leap.”

Tractor Zoom
In the Tractor Zoom app, it provides a map with pins representing auctions across the Midwest. Users can also search for specific items in the search bar.

What it does

McMahon says each auctioneer uses several different platforms to store their data from each item at their sale. And Tractor Zoom has an uploader to download and import that data into the app.

“I have a whole new respect for auctioneer’s,” McMahon says. “They have to manage a lot of data. I mean, in just a typical farm equipment auction there’s a huge process that goes into doing that professionally.

“It’s a half a million dollars worth of equipment that sells in, an hour? So it’s just a huge lead-up to that point.”

McMahon says through relationships with auctioneer’s, they will get more, “Blue dots on the map.”

He said Tractor Zoom has nearly 30 auctioneer’s registered.

“We are for the auctioneer’s,” McMahon says. “And after the sale, the auctioneer has an opportunity to get a discount on their advertising if they report the auction results. And those results will go directly to a farmer better being able to better value their assets before making a purchase.”

Sandvig says the search box provides users with the ability to search for a specific tractor.

“It will pop up and show you where it’s being sold at,” Sandvig says. “It’s easy to use and something I think will add value to farmers who are out in rural Iowa where they can’t drive down the road to meet people.”

And ultimately, McMahon says Tractor Zoom could become a worldwide platform.

“We believe we’ve solved a major pain point in the market,” McMahon said.

Tractor Zoom
(From left) The founder of Tractor Zoom )Kyle McMahon and CFO Zac Sandvig at the downtown Gravitate offices.

Joining the startup community

Tractor Zoom offices out of the Gravitate coworking space in Valley Junction but also has space at Research Park at Iowa State University with and with the Iowa State Startup Factory.

“When you come into the startup world, it’s a totally different mindset and a lot of fun,” McMahon said. “There are so many people willing to help, all you have to do is ask.”

As they evolved, McMahon and Sandvig hope to add new features to the app.

“How do you save a farmer time?” McMahon asks. “Right now they are spending over 50 hours a year searching for farm equipment. So a simple thing like push notifications that if something comes up in your area, could easily be added.”

Previous coverage…

Startups receive funding from Iowa Economic Development Authority – Nov. 20, 2017

Tractor Zoom: An app to hear about farm equipment sales and auctions | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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