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Episode 42: From Mowing Lawns to Creating a Farm Equipment Auction Database

Ep. 42: Tractor Zoom

January 24, 2020


Kyle McMahon, founder of Tractor Zoom, discusses the Tractor Zoom story with Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives of the Greater Des Moines Partnership Mike Colwell.  Tractor Zoom users receive information about farm equipment auctions by email, connect with auctioneers and search farm machinery by make and model.

Getting Started

At 12, Kyle started mowing lawns then expanded into a lawn and landscaping business with his best friend during college. As he grew busier, he sold his half of the business to his friend. Kyle is a third-generation entrepreneur who learned about distribution, marketing and more around the dinner table.

Kyle’s grandfather started many businesses and failed at a few, but when he started Barker Company, he found success as the company grew from four employees in the beginning to 750 employees as more of Kyle’s family became involved. The company became part of HillPhoenix’s specialty products division in 2009.

These experiences wouldn’t be Kyle’s last in the startup community.

Tractor Zoom: Not Just Another Auction Site

Tractor Zoom does not take a transaction fee as an eBay type company would. The company acts more as a Zillow or an AutoTrader connecting equipment auction sites to farmers. By working with all of the auction sites Tractor Zoom has scaled very quickly.

Knowing the auction market well allowed Kyle to realize that there was no online database for the farm equipment market. While trying to find ways to receive auction notifications, Kyle became aware of how difficult they were to find, and how having that information all in one place could offer a lot of value to farmers and auctioneers alike. Through research, Kyle found that auctioneers were spending 75% of advertising budget on print media, while 75% of buyers were looking online. That statistic was a catalyst for what would become Tractor Zoom.

The Importance of Data

Kyle explains that the ability to use real-time data to make actionable decisions brings a lot of opportunity to Tractor Zoom, allowing them to pinpoint better results. The ag equipment industry uses many acronyms so creating an AI based language recognition capability for this type of machinery is very difficult. As Tractor Zoom grows, maintaining clean data is an ongoing issue, and it’s one that Kyle continues to work on at Tractor Zoom.

Monetizing Data

Kyle explains that monetizing data is not easy, but by taking care of your customers, you can hone in on their needs. Initial Tractor Zoom conversations began with customers asking “Can you get that data?” and when Kyle would tell them they already had it, the question then became “When can I get it?”

Listen to the entire podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/162832/2007226-kyle-mcmahon-tractor-zoom

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Startup Stories DSM

Startup Stories DSM is a podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs who share both their victories and failures on their paths to success. It is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.