After 10 years in mergers and acquisitions, Brian Green felt frustrated by how many promising product ideas never made it off the drawing board. So two years ago he founded an R&D company -- Autek, in Scottsdale, Ariz. -- on the principle that once he identified the germ of a marketable idea, he could outsource everything else.

Take his original product: doughnut-size sound transducers, which can turn an entire room into a theater-quality speaker system. Green contracted a former NASA consultant to design it, paying him only hard costs and a percentage of sales.

Green never intended to manufacture or market his own products, but in one case he couldn't resist: the Ozone Sun Tent, a lightweight modular dome that blocks ultraviolet rays. It has been successful but "distracting," says Green. He's eager to turn it over to a marketing firm and get back to incubating ideas.

-- Anne Murphy