David Edwards founded a tea shop in 2006, but says that he nearly went under after an expensive foray into the restaurant business. "If I didn't get additional funding, the business was finished," he says, but without sufficient collateral he was unable to get a bank loan. Instead, he turned to the 4,000 customers on his mailing list, offering discounted gift cards toward future purchases at the shop. Within a week, he raised twice the money he needed to pay his debts, and sales increased as customers rallied to keep the store open.
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