Entrepreneur Rick Marini has a lot to be thankful for, including smart, connected friends who’ve supported him in the launch of two of his businesses. The most recent of these is BranchOut, which leverages Facebook to help people find business connections and that has an enviable list of backers and advisers.
Marini may soon need them more than ever.
The 38-year-old entrepreneur first benefited from close ties when he and his best friend from Harvard Business School, James Currier, created Tickle back in 1999. The company — which raised $9 million, mostly from August Capital — leveraged viral marketing to become an immensely popular purveyor of intelligence, matchmaking, and personality quizzes. It sold to the jobs colossus Monster in 2004 for roughly $100 million.
Marini’s friends have more recently come to his aid with BranchOut, a 20-person, San Francisco-based company that started life as a social entertainment site called SuperFan in 2008. The bootstrapped service struggled until last summer, when a friend of Marini asked for an introduction for a sales lead to a company. As Marini recalls now: “I couldn’t remember who in my Facebook graph worked for that company and typing in the company name took me to its Facebook fan page.”