STOCKTON -- The judges liked the soup in a tea bag, the walking stick stuffed with survival gear, and six other ideas for new businesses.
Eight people have advanced to the semifinals of the fourth annual San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge, which offers $24,000 in prizes.
They will take part in the final two rounds March 20.
The contest drew 50 entries from the Northern San Joaquin Valley and nearby mountain counties.
The 17 quarterfinalists gave two-minute pitches Wednesday night at the Stockton Golf & Country Club. The audience and a panel of judges voted for these people to advance:
Sandra Sanchez of Riverbank, who created soup in a tea bag under the Mamamosa label
Crolie Lindsay of Modesto for a metal walking stick that can be stuffed with lightweight survival gear
Jamie Norwood of Oakdale for Dig U.S. Out, a website promoting American-made products. She was part of a team that won the 2011 challenge for the Amalia's Cocina line of natural Mexican sauces.
Rich Ison of Manteca for a sliding security door
Pamela Louie of Tracy for a portable water and food container for animals
Joshua Benjestorf of Stockton for nonmetallic ports that help cell phones and other electronics be waterproof and longer-lasting.
Cheryl Peterson of Stockton for a chest drainage system clamp for doctors
Vanessa Gabriel of Stockton for a fashion website called aSociete.com.
The semifinalists will give more detailed presentations in the next round. The audience and judges will choose four finalists, who will be tested on decision-making in a simulated business situation.
The grand-prize winner will receive $7,000 in cash and $14,000 in business services, such as accounting, legal advice and marketing. The runner-up will get $3,000 in cash and $4,000 in services.
The contest is put on by the San Joaquin Angels investment group and several partners.
John Paoluccio Jr., a Modesto engineer, won last year's contest for a device that combats odors from sewer manholes.
At a glance
The final two rounds will be from 5 to 8:30 p.m. March 20 at the Stockton Golf & Country Club, 3800 W. Country Club Blvd. The cost is $15 in advance or $20 at the door, which includes food and soft drinks. The dress code is business casual (no denim). Go to www. sjchallenge.homestead. com.