A struggling printer has saved his business from bankruptcy thanks to social networking website Facebook, he said.
Tim Messom was on the verge of losing his business and potentially his home after the recession crippled companies across the world.
Only weeks ago the 35-year-old was penniless and being threatened with eviction and forced bankruptcy.
But an innovative idea to use Facebook to find new customers has brought him back from the brink of ruin to hopes of a much brighter future, he said today.
Since he set up the site last month he has gained more than 12,000 followers and at least a hundred orders.
Mr Messom, 35, from Nottingham, ran a business for several years printing his father’s artwork on to canvases to sell to high end shops and restaurants.
But when the credit crunch hit, business dried up and the printer faced financial ruin.
He said: “It was like someone had just turned a tap off. Before I knew it I was in big trouble and my own personal finances had totally disappeared.
“The last 10-12 months have been an absolute nightmare, to the point I was absolutely broke.”
He said he originally set up a Facebook group to tell friends he could print their photographs on to canvases to give as gifts.
But in the face of bankruptcy, he decided to take a much stronger approach – renaming it “Save Tim From Bankruptcy”.
The site offers the same service, creating canvases from pictures and photos, but Tim said he used it to express exactly why he was doing it and how he felt.
“It was uncanny how quickly the words came to me,” he said.
“It was embarrassing but I wanted to say I didn’t want charity, I just want people to know that there’s this group where you can get your pictures put onto canvas and to spread the word.”
The innovative idea won international attention, even spreading to Greece and to soldiers overseas.
Mr Messom said the last-ditch effort has completely turned things around.
He said: “The response was unbelievable. Within a few hours hundreds of people had joined and I had loads of messages of support.
“Within about 48 hours I had my first couple of orders, and they have kept coming in since.”
“I’ve now got two identical groups, with a total membership of about 12,500 people. It’s amazing.
“If it was not for this group, I would be bankrupt by now. This has saved me from that.”
Mr Messom, who lives with his girlfriend, said the dire situation had forced him to seek desperate measures and to “think outside of the box”.
He added: “It was sheer desperation that made me do it, but maybe sometimes when you’re down on your luck you have thoughts you wouldn’t at normal times.
“At the moment using traditional methods often doesn’t work. I think you have to think outside of the box, to try and think of something different.
“You also have to think of something that appeals to people’s better nature, I think I struck a chord with a lot of people.”
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