Meet Nick Marino, director of social change at TangoTab, a company working to end hunger in America. After leaving a corporate career, Marino joined TangoTab because of his lifelong desire to feed the hungry. Marino has also dedicated his time to the North Texas Food Bank, The Salvation Army, SoupMobile and many other charities.
In 2012, Marino was named one of the 30 Under 30 Future Business Leaders of Dallas. TangoTab was named the Winner of the 2013 Dallas Digital Summit Showcase Startup. It is a mobile app that provides people free restaurant offers. Every time a person uses an offer, TangoTab feeds a hungry American.
We wanted to know more about Marino and TangoTab and he was kind enough to answer a few questions:
Dawn Tongish: Can you begin by telling us about TangoTab?
Nick Marino: Our mission at TangoTab is to end hunger in America. Now that may sound far-fetched off the bat, but we believe we have the solution to make this dream a reality. TangoTab is a mobile app that gives every day consumers free restaurant deals (no pre-purchasing deals). Every time a consumer uses a deal, TangoTab donates a meal to a person in need locally. Like our motto says…”When you eat, they eat.” To date, because of our amazing users, we have been able to feed over half a million people. There are over 1 billion meals dined out every week and over 50 million Americans (16.5 million of those are children) go to bed hungry every night. With the amount of times we dine out on a weekly basis, we believe we can make this happen.
DT: What are your duties at TangoTab?
NM: At most companies an individual can give you one solid answer, but at a start-up it is totally different. Everyone on our team wears multiple hats. My main role is on the marketing side, generating more users to download TangoTab and building retention and loyalty to the app.
DT: How did you become involved with TangoTab, and why are you so passionate about the work being done there?
NM: In college I became heavily involved with charity work and in the community. Coming out of college I wanted to work for TOMS shoes because of their ONE for ONE giving model. Towards the end of 2011 I was introduced to Andre Angel (the founder and aka the Chief Eating Officer / CEO of TangoTab). When the introduction occurred I had heard about this new brand and movement that he was starting up. I began to research not just the company, but also the social problem it was working to solve. When I discovered what the “When you eat, they eat” motto meant, I was sold. From that moment I knew that TangoTab was the place for me to be (I’m glad Andre thought the same).
DT: How do you describe the need for what you are doing? Is it bigger than what most people imagine?
NM: Where do I begin? The first image that pops into a person’s head when they hear about hunger is a third world country. Yes there is major needs for food all over the world, but there is also a huge need right here in our own neighborhoods. Even when people think of hunger they picture a person on a corner with a cardboard sign. That’s just a small percentage of the people struggling. When I was researching the social problem of hunger in America I was astonished to see the stats. As I mentioned before over 50 million Americans go to bed hungry every night and 16.5 million of those are children. There are kids on the playground that are playing with your kids that will be going to bed hungry tonight. It may even be the person that handed you your dry cleaning or that brewed your coffee today. This is a problem that people hide behind in America. It’s something that we are not confronted with on a daily basis, but it is something that is happening and growing. When we started TangoTab the number of people going to bed hungry every night was 42-45 million people and that number has increased.
DT: How can the people of Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs?
NM: TangoTab is a new app. We are just a little over 2 years old, so getting the name out is our biggest task. It truly is a win-win-win model. The restaurant gets a great consumer, the consumer saves money on a delicious meal and from that we are able to feed a person in need. The people of DFW can start off by downloading the app, use it and tell everyone you know to join the movement as well. It is all free to do.
DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at TangoTab?
NM: Being part of such a young company we are making memories every single day. My favorite part of it all is when our team and the users of our app are out together volunteering and helping others. It’s not just about cutting checks to the local food banks. We make it a priority to roll up or sleeves on a regular basis and actually see the problem face-to-face. This weekend we are going to be out with around 100 people making over 3,000 sandwiches that will be handed out over the next week to people in need so they have something to eat. Back in February of this year on 2-22 to celebrate our 2-year birthday we broke a Guinness World Record. The record we broke was The Most People Making Sandwiches Simultaneously. We had 1,363 people participate in breaking the record and around 2,000 people actually out at the event. From the event we made 36,000 sandwiches that day and had enough leftover product for another 100,000 sandwiches. All of the sandwiches and products were donated to local food charities. So many people came out including Mike Modano, LaDainian Tomlinson, Terrell Owens, Tony Zazza and Steve Kemble. It’s definitely a day I will never forget.
DT: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day?
NM: I walk to the kitchen to see if someone brewed a pot of coffee. Most likely there is some already made.
If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.