FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRACTOR ZOOM AWARDED $100,000 IN DEMONSTRATION FUNDS
AMES, Iowa (May 22, 2018) – The Iowa State University Startup Factory (SUF) today announced the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board has awarded Tractor Zoom $100,000 in innovation funds as recommended by the Technology Commercialization Committee. Tractor Zoom is a member of SUF’s cohort 3 which will graduate from its year-long program during a special reception being held at the Economic Development Core Facility on June 21, 2018.
Tractor Zoom has developed a digital advertising platform for heavy equipment auctions. The platform utilizes software to streamline the auction advertising process to directly place heavy equipment auctions in the hands of interested buyers. The $100,000 from the Demonstration Fund will be used for hiring key personnel, product refinement, market planning and market entry activities.
IEDA Funding Advances the Company
Founded in 2017 by Kyle McMahon, Tractor Zoom has a simple mission: digitally connect farmers and auctioneers faster than ever before. According to McMahon, the platform allows users to search auction inventory across the country, quickly and conveniently, from either a mobile device or through the company’s website.
McMahon says Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) funds received in an earlier round enabled the company to build, then launch its searchable website in February, adding to the mobile app option users may employ to access its platform. He says the technology allows farmers and shoppers to view upcoming auction equipment “from anywhere at any time.”
McMahon adds, “The POCR funds we received in November also allowed us to hire key personnel. Before receiving the POCR, our CFO Zac Sandvig was only working part-time with us. About a week after receiving the award we were able to make our first hire, bringing Zac on full-time. Then, in December, we hired our Marketing Manager Caitlin Zimmerman.”
McMahon says the $100,000 Demonstration Funds Tractor Zoom received in the latest round of IEDA funding will allow the company to make additional hires.
“We plan to add two more employees in the very near future,” he says. “A product manager who will manage our technology and a customer success manager who will handle auction inventory and networking and sales with auctioneers. These key positions will drive additional auction advertisers onto the system, making it an even more powerful search function with more inventory, which in turn, provides our end-users a superior equipment auction shopping experience.”
Providing Auctioneers a Value-Added Advertising Alternative
McMahon says plans are to have its customer success manager position be 100% dedicated to the auction community to further optimize relationships between the two services.
“Our platform provides an additional advertising source for auctioneers that comes with increased benefits and value for both them and ultimately, our customers. For example, with Tractor Zoom, auctioneers are able to advertise in a digital format, by lot, which means they can target-advertise an individual item versus an entire sale bill. This allows customers to find and search auctions faster, and through a much more high-quality service than what’s currently available on the market. In addition, auctioneers can access a whole new demographic and pool of potential buyers through Tractor Zoom’s customers.”
Growing Customer Base
Tractor Zoom is attracting an ever-growing customer-base due to its digital platform.
“Users gravitate towards us because our platform is very easy to use, it’s on the go and is completely searchable,” McMahon says. “Our customer-base has become quite tech-savvy, and the number of smart device users is on the rise, making our platform an even more sought-after means of finding equipment for sale.”
In a 2015 study highlighted by AgWeb, survey findings showed that by 2016, 87% of U.S. farmers would own a smart device. The findings also indicated that farmers used their smartphones for multiple tasks, including 72% of respondents who stated they used them for online searches.
The Demonstration Funds received will help Tractor Zoom further refine its product and look for other market opportunities. Currently, Tractor Zoom is targeting connecting farmers with ag-based equipment; however, McMahon sees a path for the future. “We see this model working in adjacent asset classes that have similar needs as ag. We’re so thankful for the State of Iowa believing in us and giving us the opportunity to create and grow a company right here in the Cultivation Corridor.”
Startup Factory Gives Tractor Zoom a Foundation
McMahon joined the Startup Factory in June 2017 and will graduate with other cohort 3 members during a special reception being held at the Economic Development Core Facility next month.
“I’m very grateful to The Startup Factory and all the teachers and mentors involved in the program. They gave us a foundation in which to successfully launch our company, versus launching it blindly, and provided us excellent mentorship, structure and access to individuals who have built businesses before.”
The SUF is currently conducting applicant reviews for its fifth cohort, which will start on June 21, 2018.
In total in this round of investments, the IEDA announced over $80 million in capital investment in Iowa for direct financial assistance and tax benefits to eight companies for job creation and expansion projects, six of which will benefit rural Iowa communities, along with innovation funding for three startups.
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 isustartupfactory.org
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 tractorzoom.com