Fast Pitch Call


Recognizing and rewarding new innovation in academic library and information management

In 2015, the Charleston Conference presented several well-received panels about startups, innovations and entrepreneurship.  In 2016, we sought to expand on those themes by actively encouraging creative solutions in academic libraries by hosting the first Charleston FAST PITCH Competition. Following a wildly successful first year, we now call Conference registrants to submit proposals to present at this years’ Charleston FAST PITCH session at the 2017 Charleston Conference.

This Call is open to all who are in the process of developing new, innovative, and implementable ideas to improve their academic libraries or related organizations.  The intent of the competition is to showcase innovation in library information management and to award the most deserving examples of innovation.

Modeled on venture capital funding competitions, the CHARLESTON FAST PITCH COMPETITION will provide two monetary awards ($2,500 apiece) to further support the development and implementation of compelling library innovations, as well as to provide a strong “vote of confidence” from a panel of experts and from Charleston Conference attendees.  Participation in this process will help library entrepreneurs further develop their innovations and contribute to meaningful impact.

Application Deadline: September 15, 2017 Extended to September 29
(See “Apply Now” link at bottom of page)

Eligibility Information

  • We are looking for well-developed plans for new or improved services that will benefit the users of an academic or research library. Approaches for offering new types of library information, more effective use of existing resources, or special outreach to attract new users are all welcome.
  • Proposals that include more than one collaborator (individual or institution) or that can be scaled to include others will also be considered.
  • All participants must be employed by a U.S.-based tax exempt non-profit organization, as the Foundation supporting the monetary awards can only provide funds to this type of organization. Individuals or for-profit organizations are not eligible.
  • Individuals presenting on behalf of their organization must have organizational decision-making responsibility, and should have at least six (6) months of tenure with the organization. They also must be experienced and comfortable in public speaking.  They must understand that a good pitch is more than just asking for money; it is about articulating how their unique approach will solve problems and improve the consumption and value of information.
  • Finalists must be able to present at the Fast Pitch Competition at The Charleston Conference in Charleston, SC on Wednesday, November 8, 2017.
  • There are no restrictions based on organization size, budget, or age of the organization. There is also no fee to participate other than being a registered attendee of The Charleston Conference.

Selection Process

  • Anyone interested in participating in this competition must begin the process by completing an application. See the “Apply Now” button below to answer a set of questions.  The application deadline is September 29, 2017.
  • A selection committee of judges will review all applications and select four to six (4 to 6) applications to be Finalists in the Fast Pitch Competition. Notification by the Selection Committee to all applicants (Finalists and non Finalists) will be by October 16.
  • The Fast Pitch Competition will be a plenary session on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at The Charleston Conference in Charleston, SC. Each Finalist will be introduced and asked to come on stage and present his or her organization’s innovation plan.  Each presentation will be to all conference attendees and to a special panel of judges.  Each Finalist will be given a maximum of 5 minutes to present his or her innovation.
  • Once all Finalists have presented, the judges will sequester themselves and select the Finalist they consider the winner. At the same time, the audience will be asked to vote for the Finalist they consider most deserving.
  • Two awards will be granted—one based on deliberations of the judges and one based on voting by the audience. Each Finalist will be eligible for one or both awards.
  • The Conference will offer presentation coaching to all Finalists, if desired, in advance of the competition. Coaches will provide feedback and help Finalists refine and improve their “pitches.”  Coaching will be available two weeks before the Conference and before the competition itself.
  • Winners from the competition will be asked during the coming year to describe their project’s successes and to share “learnings” with the library community at large.

Selection Guidelines

  • Problem Being Addressed: What is the significance and depth of understanding of the problem being addressed? Does the approach being proposed address the root of the problem or just its symptoms?
  • Target Audience: Whom is the innovation intended to serve and what is the size and nature of this audience?
  • Innovation: How novel and unique is the approach being proposed?  How will it lead to more dramatic long-term results, compared to current practices or more conventional approaches?  Keep in mind that innovation can come in many forms: new offerings, new ways of delivering existing services, applying technology creatively, or new operating models or collaborations.  What is the level of creativity being brought to solving the problem?
  • Innovation Leader: How strong and experienced is the leader of the innovation? How compelling is his or her vision and does the person demonstrate the ingenuity, drive, and learning-orientation to help make his or her proposed initiative successful?
  • Organizational Fit and Support: Where does this innovation fit within the sponsoring organization and what type of support is it being given?
  • Intended Impact: What are the metrics that will be used to assess long-term outcomes, not just outputs or activities?  How will the organization assess the progress and impact from the innovation?


  • Application Deadline: September 29, 2017

To apply, click on the “Apply Now” link below and answer a set of questions describing your innovation.  Any applications received after the deadline will not be eligible for the competition.

  • Notification to All Applicants: October 16

All applicants will be notified by October 2 as to whether they are or are not a Finalist for the Fast Pitch Competition.

  • Finalist Preparation and Coaching: October 16 – 30        

Finalists will prepare their short pitches and work with their assigned coach to refine their presentations.

  • Fast Pitch Competition: Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Finalists will make short presentations as part of Fast Pitch Competition at The Charleston Conference.  Award winners will be announced at the end of this session.


The Goodall Family Charitable Foundation, an independent foundation focusing on making grants to support educational endeavors.


If you have questions, please contact