Marketing grad to run off student debt

Jason Kasher kicks off his own business, Paid To Run.

Jason Kasher would rather run a thousand miles than buy a plane ticket to Florida.

It was this realization, which struck him as he perused overpriced tickets to visit family, that sparked an entrepreneurial idea that he now considers his occupation.

The Temple graduate, who majored in marketing, plans to run across the country, but it isn’t to escape from his responsibilities – it’s the kickoff of his own business. After graduating in the fall of 2012, Kasher said he has $30,000 in student loans to pay off.

He also wanted to get back into running, something he said he enjoyed in high school and during the beginning of his undergraduate education. When the light bulb was sparked by expensive plane tickets, he put the two together to create a strategy.

Paid To Run was the resulting business plan that 23-year-old Kasher developed. Using a network of friends and family that he said are “scattered in different places throughout the country,” he will trek from Florida to the state of Washington, back to Pennsylvania and eventually to Florida again.

It won’t just be for a Forrest Gump-inspired time of reflection, however, since Kasher still intends to turn a profit to pay off his remaining student loans and even make money for other business ventures. He plans to charge companies who invest in Paid To Run for advertising opportunities, which will be achieved through his social media documentation of his journey, as well as the company-representative clothing he will wear while actively traveling.

“When I pitch the idea to any prospective businesses, I tell them that the idea of me wearing your company shirt, or your company polo, whatever it might be, is a great thing,” Kasher said. “There are people that are [going to] see this. But I tell them that the most important thing that I’m doing, [which] gets a lot of people interested, is not the run itself, but following me during this stuff. People are interested. They like how odd it is, they’re curious and they want to see what is he going to be doing next. I tell all my sponsors that the social media aspect is the most appealing thing.”

He plans to update his blog frequently while he runs across the country to keep those following his progress updated. This will also allow family and friends, who he said have been “very supportive,” to track his location.

Kasher has set two main goals for himself as he plans to embark on his Paid To Run venture, the first being that he will run 1,000 miles in six months. Kasher said he has been dedicated to training over the past few months, running between five and seven miles each day. He plans to meet his 1,000 mile goal by running six miles each day throughout his journey.

Secondly, he aspires to raise $100,000, which will more than cover his student loan debt.  In a calendar found on his Paid To Run website, investors can purchase ‘ad space’ for a day or multiple days. The price is listed per day, and increases continuously from the starting date of Sept. 1.

Washington’s Martial Arts Training Center in Reading, Pa. was one of Kasher’s first sponsors, he said.

Though confident in Paid To Run, Kasher recognizes the incredulity that could be inspired by his decision to take such a risky business gamble. He did obtain a full-time occupation as an operations manager at a logistics firm in Carlisle, Pa. after his graduation from Temple, but considers leaving that job for Paid To Run to be a worthwhile personal investment.

“I’ve been able to achieve something in six months of my own free time,” Kasher said. “[I’m] doing something that I love better than I would have been able to do if I worked full-time for an entire year. It’s a huge risk, but it’s something I know I have to take at some point in my life.”

Even if he doesn’t reach his full monetary goal, Kasher said that the business world learning experience of starting Paid To Run is still immensely valuable. He credits the Temple Made campaign for inspiring his self-made agenda.

“I really feel as though it’s a good message,” Kasher said. “Whether or not people think right now is the perfect opportunity [to try something], maybe it’s worth doing it.”

He said that he believes that many of his peers and advisers think that they should wait for the opportune moment to start their own business, but he strongly disagrees.

“How can you guarantee that five years from now, I’m [going to] have a perfect moment?” he said. “If all I do is wait for that perfect moment, I’ll be waiting for the rest of my life, and I’ll never take that chance.”

Erin Edinger-Turoff can be reached at Follow on Twitter @erinJustineET.

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