Beyond the Pitch: Catching up with inaugural Startup Runway winner, Kandid.ly!

“The greatest part about this whole experience is not necessarily the prize money- though, that was great- but the opportunity to let more people know about Kandid.ly, because we really do believe that our company satisfies an unmet need in the market.” – Sam Ulu, CEO of Kandid.ly

Sam Ulu, CEO of Kandid.ly, during the final round of pitching.

During the inaugural Startup Runway pitch competition, co-founder and CEO of Kandid.ly, Sam Ulu, had the opportunity to pitch their innovative platform that provides customers with on-demand access to photographers. Ulu introduced their photog-centric business to a room of seasoned tech investors, advisors, and other startup professionals, and Kandid.ly went on to win first place in the inagural Startup Runway Showcase: receiving a no-strings-attached cash prize.

In the age of Instagram influencers and bathroom selfies, Kandid.ly is redefining what it means to be a photographer. The team developed an online marketplace where freelance photographers can find clients, and potential clients can find photographers. Using the Kandid.ly site, photographers can create a profile, and showcase their work. For the customer, the process is turn-key: they simply enter in the type of event, date, time, and location, and the Kandid.ly platform works to connect them with an available photographer. By bringing together photographers and local clients, Kandid.ly is helping people get paid for their passion.

Startup runway is more than just a pitch competition with the cornerstone component of the program being a “mock board meeting.” This provides the founders facetime with advisors and investors- who act as the board of their company. While working through a real issue, founders are provided with fresh ideas and novel solutions to pain points that exist in their company.


For Kandid.ly, the result of the mock board was an ongoing relationship with an advisor, who even helped the team build a new model to scale their business to cities throughout the US. With multiple projects and partnerships in the works since Startup Runway, Kandid.ly’s future is definitely looking bright. “Last year was monumental for our team,” said Ulu. “We were able to implement different marketing strategies that resulted in record traffic and use of our site. The Holiday season was busy, that’s for sure.” With a newfound outlook and many more developments to come, Kandid.ly is primed to take 2017 by storm.

Sam’s experience at Startup Runway also served as an introduction to the tech landscape of Atlanta and everything it has to offer startup companies like his. “We really got a chance to see the components of tech in Atlanta and everything the city offers to diverse startups,” said Ulu. “The greatest part about this whole experience is not necessarily the prize money- though, that was great- but the opportunity to let more people know about Kandid.ly, because we really do believe that our company satisfies an unmet need in the market.”

Keep up with Kandid.ly by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

Is your startup ready to fly? Your tech driven startup could be the winner of the Spring 2017 edition of Startup Runway! Apply today to participate in a Startup Runway preflight pitch round!