The "aha" moment: Todd Newhouse's employer gave him a Motorola Droid smartphone last November. Newhouse liked the phone, but he was annoyed to discover that he had to remove it from its protective case to put it in Motorola's stand. He set out to design something better.

R&D: In January, Newhouse, a mechanical engineer, created a computer model of an improved stand. With his boss's approval, he sent it to a 3-D printer at the office, which produced a plastic prototype. Three weeks and six iterations later, he had a stand that could accommodate most touchscreen phones, case and all. He dubbed it the ezeStand.

Hitting the market: Newhouse hired a manufacturer to make 100 ezeStands and assembled them with his wife and kids. In February, he wrote a post about the invention in an online Droid forum and sold out in four days. Since then, Newhouse, who is still at his day job, has sold more than 1,000 stands online for $12.99, or $15.99 with a USB cable.

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