Temple grad’s new job: Running off college debt

When Jason Kasher graduated from Temple University last fall, he wasn’t exactly sure how he would break into the real world. Like many other new graduates saddled with student loans, he took the first job he could find.

But eight months into working as an operations manager for a logistics firm based in Carlisle, Kasher, 23, had a vision for something greater. Instead of staying at his job, he had a different idea of how he could pay off his remaining $30,000 worth of loans without having to step into the office for another day.

“It just dawned on me one day and I thought, do I really want to be doing this in 20, 30 years?,” Kasher said. “I realized I’m never going to have a better opportunity to take a risk than right now.”

The Reading native left his job in June to create Paid to Run, a fundraising and fitness challenge where he will turn himself into a human billboard and run 1,000 miles across the country to pay off his loans.

“It was a way to see how quick I could pay off my student debt while at the same time setting a personal goal for myself,” Kasher said. “I figured it would be able to tackle two goals at one time.”

Kasher, who holds a B.A. in marketing, was inspired to start this business for several reasons. He had already been thinking about entrepreneurship, and at the same time was getting back into running. He had also seen news articles about other similar fundraising companies online.

“What made the idea click together was when I was attempting to purchase a plane ticket one day to Florida and I said to myself that I'd be better off walking to Florida than paying the high price,” he said. “That's what made the idea pop into my head of putting together my new hobby running and my desire to start my own business.”

So how does the challenge work? Companies can buy ad time by sending Kasher an outfit with their logo, and he will wear it for the day. The rate starts out at $1 per mile when the challenge begins September 1, and will increase $1 each day after that.

Kasher, who has only competed in 5K races, and never joined a track or cross-country team in his school years, will have to run at least six miles per day to keep up the pace. But he’s been training long and hard the past few months – running by Kelly Drive, the Art Museum area and on the Ben Franklin Bridge, as well as doing some strength training in the gym.

Kasher hasn’t mapped out an exact course yet, but he said he already has some friends that he’s planning on crashing with throughout the way.

If he’s able to raise money each day of the challenge, Kasher will end up with about $100,000. While he only needs a fraction of that to cover his loan costs, he’s already planned what he would do with the extra money.

“I’d like to continue with Paid to Run,” he said. “After I do my run I’m either going to continue to keep that name for the company or try something different.”

Kasher credits his experience at Temple for his motivation to start the business and stay with it. Persistence is key, he added, for anyone looking to succeed in any endeavor.

“I feel that Temple really helped me a lot by pushing the whole idea of ‘Temple Made’ into my head,” he said. “They do a good job of drilling it into your head that if you really want something you have to just step out there and do it, instead of waiting for the perfect moment which may never come.”

And that's just what he did. As for other recent grads like himself, Kasher has one major piece of advice:

“If you have a great idea that you’re passionate about, or have anything that you really believe in then I would say take a shot at it,” he said. “People said I was crazy for quitting my job, but I’m just taking this chance right now because I truly believe in it.”

Follow Kasher's journey on his blog here >