Karl Müller was born in 1952 in Roggwil, a municipality in the Swiss canton of Thurgau. After studying mechanical engineering at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich, in 1979 he moved to South Korea. At first he studied on a scholarship at Seoul National University but, seven months after he had begun, the Korean President Park was killed and the university closed due to months of mass demonstrations.
After this incident, in 1980, Karl was left looking for a job in Korea. He found a gap in the market and founded his first company, which imported Swiss specialities for hotels. Over the next years he set up 12 companies in Korea, opening restaurants, selling textile machines and becoming the first trader to import skis into Korea. Every field he touched turned to gold.
Ups and downs
Karl paid a high price for his success, suffering a burnout. To get back to good health, in 1990 he sold all his companies and returned to Switzerland, by Lake Constance. He bought a farm and spent ten years living a self-sufficient life, using the time to establish a private, non-profit residential rehab centre. After three years, however, his cash flow dried up and Karl started working as a travelling trader at weekly markets.
Start of MBT
In Korea, Karl discovered the positive characteristics of a clay soil. As the water gradually drained away on the fields, the ground was soft and supple, making it very pleasant to stand and walk upon. The idea behind MBT came to him, as a gift from Heaven; he did research and developed the concept, acting as his own test subject.
In 1997 Karl brought the MBT shoe onto the market, revolutionising the shoe industry with its ‘rolling sole’. This rolling shoe has proved its value as a means of therapy and is today copied by more than 100 shoe producers round the world.
kyBoot – the new generation (from MBT to kybun)
Karl Müller continued to research into even better ways to imitate the pleasant feeling from the rice paddy. The soft, supple sole he developed was to have been the next MBT generation. However, as his minority partners preferred to remain with the round sole, in 2006 they parted company on good terms. The result of this development was a new brand, the kyBoot. In 2007, Karl founded kybun AG and started developing the kyBoot and other accompanying products.
kybun exercise concept
The kyBoot is part of the kybun exercise concept, which also includes the kyBounder (the soft, supple, springy mat) and the kyTrainer (the soft treadmill).
According to the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung, Karl Müller is one of the most innovative entrepreneurs in Switzerland, and has written design history.
The family’s KM Foundation is an important part of Karl Müller’s social commitment. The organisation was founded on the basis of the Christian philosophy of helping those in need, and helps disadvantaged people throughout the world.