Tractor Zoom Founder and CEO Kyle McMahon receives the $15,000 third place prize from John Pappajohn during the September 13, 2018 John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition reception in Des Moines.

AMES, Iowa (September 20, 2018) – The Iowa State University Startup Factory (SUF) today announced Tractor Zoom earned third place and the $15,000 prize in the 2018 John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition.

Tractor Zoom, located in West Des Moines, is a member of SUF’s Cohort 3, which graduated in June. The company has developed a digital advertising platform for heavy equipment auctions. Their platform utilizes software to streamline the auction advertising process to directly place heavy equipment auctions in the hands of interested buyers.

First and second-place prizes went to Ankeny-based PowerPollen and Akron-based Insulights, respectively.

Startups had the opportunity to submit regionally. Of the 52 applicants, the group was narrowed down to 24 companies for the semi-finals round, and then to 12 selected to pitch to a panel of judges during the final presentation round held in Ames. The winners were announced on September 13th at a special recognition awards luncheon at Drake University in Des Moines.

“John Pappajohn is an icon for entrepreneurship and Tractor Zoom is honored to take third place in the competition,” Tractor Zoom founder and CEO Kyle McMahon said. “52 of Iowa’s most promising startups entered the competition, which made for a tight race. Ultimately, the $15,000 Tractor Zoom earned will be used to continue our growth and allow us to continue to hire key individuals, creating jobs right here in Iowa.”

Smart Ag Founder and CEO Colin Hurd receives $8,000 from John Pappajohn for the company’s honorable mention prize.

In addition to Tractor Zoom, four other ISU Startup Factory program alumni, including NanoSpy, Inc.NebullamSAFI-Tech, Inc. and Smart Ag were selected to compete in the finals round. Smart Ag, a graduate of the program’s inaugural cohort, was awarded an $8,000 honorable mention prize.


The finalists

PowerPollen received first place and the $40,000 prize.

Insulights received second place and the $25,000 prize.

Tractor Zoom received third place and the $15,000 prize.

Smart Ag received an $8,000 honorable mention award.

Verdi Life received a $5,000 honorable mention award.

Seven other entrepreneurs including, Impakt Athletics, NanoSpy, Nebullam, SAFI-Tech, Stover Ventures, SynderBio and Vet Measure each received $1,000 finalist awards.


The Competition: Encouraging, promoting Iowa’s entrepreneurial activity

The John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition is a collaborative project of the Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers located at Drake University, Iowa State University, North Iowa Area Community College, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa. The contest is intended to encourage and promote entrepreneurial activity and create greater awareness of the resources available to entrepreneurs in Iowa.

Unique to this year’s awards program was a funding match made possible by Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, bringing the total 2018 awards to $100,000, the largest total cash prize amount awarded in the competition’s history.



About Startup Factory
The Iowa State University (ISU) Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park (ISURP). Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs. For more information on the ISU Startup Factory program, call 515-294-7444 or visit

About Tractor Zoom
Tractor Zoom is an online and mobile app marketplace specifically for agricultural machinery auctions. Tractor Zoom allows users to access more farm auction inventory in less time, from anywhere at any time. For more information, call (641) 919-5953 or visit

Contact:  Julie Lelonek
Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations