Mark Coons of Modesto won the San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge on Wednesday night with his idea for a gun vault concealed behind artwork.
Coons received $10,000 in cash and $7,000 worth of business services in the fifth annual event, held at the Stockton Golf & Country Club.
Nathaniel Montgomery of Lathrop, creator of a reusable bag tie, was the runner-up. He received $3,000 in cash and $4,000 in services.
They were chosen by a panel of expert judges and the audience, à la “American Idol.”
The first round March 5 involved 16 quarterfinalists giving two-minute presentations. Eight semifinalists moved on to Wednesday’s event, which started with five-minute presentations. The four finalists then answered questions and took part in a simulation involving a challenging business situation.
The other finalists were Don Smith of Sonora with a camouflage propane tank cover and Kristaphor Hooton of Mariposa with “harvest-at-home microgreens.”
The contest is open to people in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador and Alpine counties. It is sponsored by the San Joaquin Angels investment group with numerous partners in business, academia and economic development.