'Twentysomething Trailblazer'

Written by: 
Monique Bird

Nick Marino Jr. ('10) (Courtesy of Nick Marino Jr.)Nick Marino Jr. (ΚΌ10) is making a name for himself doing good. CultureMap.com, in its September celebration of 'twentysomething trailblazers,' named him a Top Texan Under 30 for his work in marketing, social entrepreneurship and giving back.

"I love the opportunity to give back, but I'm also having fun with what I do," Marino says. "Marketing is my hobby, and UNT gave me the experience to make something out of what I love."

Since graduating, Marino has used his marketing degree to help tackle one of society's biggest challenges -- food insecurity.

As the director of social change for TangoTab, an app that works with restaurants so that diners can earn points to feed people in need through local food charities. He joined the company in 2012 as one of the first employees, and since then, TangoTab has partnered with more than 100,000 restaurants to provide meals to over 2 million people -- fulfilling its "When you eat, they eat" promise.

"Living with purpose is beyond a statement to me. It is the way I want to live my life daily," says Marino. "A lot of people are scared to follow their passion, but I say, 'Fail faster. Fail harder. But get up quicker.'"

Marino's efforts go far. He is the founder of MISSIOND, a platform that highlights people making a difference around the world. It includes a clothing line to inspire random acts of kindness. He also co-founded Revolving Mind Media, a marketing and consulting company based in Dallas.

And in 2015, Marino led the efforts to launch Feed The City events in Dallas, which have grown to eight monthly events around the country. These events bring together hundreds of people to make thousands of meals for those that are less fortunate. He also launched Farm The City events, an initiative to partner urban gardens with local food charities to provide fresh meals to people in need.

His projects show a dedication Marino found nearly a decade ago after his freshman year of college, while working on mission projects in the Dominican Republic with young baseball players in the small country's poorest city.

"That's where I saw hunger for the first time," Marino says. After returning home, he began to see challenges as opportunities.

Later transferring to UNT after playing two years of junior college baseball, Marino became a self-described "marketing junkie" after a course with branding professor Francisco Guzman. And through UNT's Professional Leadership Program (PLP), Marino further established his altruistic roots and helped launched PLPink to raise money for local Dallas organizations focused on breast cancer research. His mentor through PLP, Eric Dyson, advised Marino that philanthropic success would work best if he understood how to make a for-profit business thrive. He later connected Marino to Andre Angle, who at the time was just starting TangoTab.

"Business can be the catalyst to real change," Marino says, "and can build a model to create everlasting, sustainable change."