Breaking News:  Our CEO Douglas Younger III will be teaching at CSU East Bay this Spring! Check out the events page to learn more!Our CEO Douglas Younger III will be teaching at CSU East Bay this Spring! Check out the events page to learn more!

Monday March 29, 2021

Sacramento Kings Launch Sixth Annual Capitalize Crowdsourced Startup Contest

-- Capitalize, League’s First Startup Contest, Provides Local Entrepreneurs with Opportunity to Showcase Ideas on Global Platform --
-- In Collaboration with 3STEPS4WARD and Sacramento Urban Technology Lab --
-- Applications due Monday, April 5 --

Sacramento, Calif. — Today, the Sacramento Kings announced the start of the sixth annual Capitalize contest. Capitalize, the league’s first crowdsourced startup competition, offers local entrepreneurs a chance to gain publicity, receive mentorship and secure funding for their business. This year, the contest will be run in collaboration with 3STEPS4WARD and Sacramento Urban Technology Lab. 3STEPS4WARD is a full-service marketing consultancy group based in Pleasanton, California and founded on principles for positive social causes. Sacramento Urban Technology Lab aims to bring awareness to current and future city initiatives as well as develop programming to support the growth of numerous industry verticals. The Kings, 3STEPS4WARD and Sacramento Urban Technology Lab will announce the 2021 Capitalize winner during the game on Sunday, May 9, as the team hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder, and will award them with $10,000 and six months of free marketing services by 3STEPS4WARD.

“We are excited to welcome back the Capitalize contest for the sixth year in-a-row,” said Sacramento Kings President of Business Operations John Rinehart. “Through this contest, the Kings help showcase the ever-growing startup community here in the greater Sacramento area and provide them with valuable mentorship, feedback and resources.”

“The entire 3STEPS4WARD team is honored to partner with the Kings and is proud to sponsor this year’s competition,” said 3STEPS4WARD Founder and CEO Douglas Younger III. “The Capitalize contest furthers our vision of helping small businesses increase their visibility and enhance their growth. We encourage local entrepreneurs to enter and look forward to helping the 2021 Capitalize winner take their startup to the next level.”

Startups within 75 miles of Sacramento are eligible to apply online starting today until Monday, April 5, at 11:59 p.m.

Upon closure of the application process, eight companies will be notified that they have been selected to participate in the 2021 Capitalize contest. Those eight companies will then prepare for Pitch Day by participating in both a pitch workshop and pitch coaching session.

On Pitch Day, Monday, April 19, the eight semifinalists will virtually deliver pitches, defining their company and product, making their claim as to why they should be chosen as the 2021 Capitalize winner and taking questions from the judging panel. The judging panel will consist of local business professionals, executives and entrepreneurs, including:

-John Rinehart, Sacramento Kings President of Business Operations
-Douglas Younger III, 3STEPS4WARD Founder CEO
-Maritza Davis, Sacramento Kings Vice President of Experiences and Social Responsibility
-ZiZi Zhang, Bow Capital Investor
-Kenny Sadler, Berkeley Strategy Advisors Founder and Managing Partner

Together, these judges will help select the four finalists to be announced on Tuesday, April 20.

The four finalists will create pitch videos to be debuted on Sunday, May 2 at Fans will be able to vote for the company they want to see crowned the winner starting at 10 a.m. on May 2 until halftime of the Kings vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder game on May 9. At that time, the judges’ votes will be tallied and combined with the fan vote to determine the winner of the 2021 Capitalize contest.

Last year, Sacramento- and Seattle-based Humanly was crowned the winner of the 2020 Capitalize contest for their hiring platform that streamlines the screening and scheduling of job candidates while providing the best experience for every applicant. To read more about Humanly, click here.

"The Kings Capitalize competition was such a cool experience last year,” said Humanly Co-Founder and COO Andrew Gardner. “This innovation recognition by peers has propelled's brand awareness with local Sacramento business leaders. I’m excited to see the next cohort come through this year, I’ll be fan voting for sure!" The Kings are proud to highlight the ever-growing technology and innovation community within the Sacramento region. Since the inaugural launch of Capitalize in 2016, hundreds of applicants from around the area have submitted their business ideas to be considered in this competition, with many voicing how valuable the contest has been for their emerging businesses.

For more information and details on how to enter, visit

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3STEPS4WARD is a full-service marketing company that was founded on the principles of socially-responsible business. As a Minority Business Enterprise and a Small Business Enterprise certified by the state of California, we help startups, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses succeed in their missions through tech-forward digital marketing. We provide a range of services including social media, lead generation, market research, strategy, branding, and web design.

Our family is a collective of marketing experts, creatives, and strategists brought together by Douglas Younger, III, an executive with two decades of marketing experience for Fortune 500 and NASDAQ-listed companies, Silicon Valley startups, 501(c)3s, and entrepreneurs across 40+ countries. Doug is also a marketing lecturer for an executive MBA program at a top California educational institution.

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