Sarah Dvorak was desperate. The former retail executive had depleted her savings accounts, borrowed from family members, and secured a microloan from a local development group to launch Mission Cheese, a San Francisco café that would specialize in domestic products like Minnesota-made Camembert and a silky sheep's-milk cheese from Northern California. But three weeks before opening day last spring, she still didn't have refrigerated cases to store and display her fare. Despite having cobbled together $225,000 to start her business, she had come up $12,000 short. So she turned to Indiegogo, a San Francisco-based site that allowed her to appeal directly to the public for money. "Within one month, I had the funding I needed," Dvorak says. "I was in tears."