From FT-MBA to award-winning start-up: Alumnus David Even founds Primal Soles - Planet’s First Circular Shoe Insoles


David’s start-up Primal Soles, which makes sustainably sourced 100% recyclable insoles for shoes, recently won the Financial Times 2023 Responsible Business Education Awards, a prestigious award that acknowledges the efforts of Business Schools and their students to find more responsible ways of doing business.


David Even (FT-MBA 45) is trying to change the way we understand footwear one step at a time. He launched Primal Soles after the idea came to him during some time off along the Mediterranean, building on his experience with entrepreneurship and sustainable business from the FT-MBA program, which was recently ranked 6th in the world and 3rd in Europe by the Financial Times.

It was always his intention to create something sustainable and circular. His growing company was awarded the Financial Times 2023 Responsible Business Education Awards in the student-led category. The award recognizes student-led projects that seek to do business in a more responsible way.

David shared his story and excitement about the prize in an interview with SDA Bocconi:


Leading a more sustainable world

We've never had so many people outputting so many harmful things into the world, but we've also never had better tools to fight this. We have a duty as leaders, as individuals to be more selfless and thoughtful.

We like to say that every time you put on your shoes in the morning, you carry a responsibility, and Primal Soles is a nice daily reminder of that.


Financial Times award brings boost of confidence

Besides the exposure, it has given us a lot of confidence. It’s tough to survive in the market, especially as a sustainable start-up. But at the same time, we're doing something good, and the world is headed in that direction.

Hopefully we can also inspire a lot of others, including students, and show that it pays off to do good for the planet.


Uniting business and sustainability

We know every step of our supply chain, from the moment the cork is harvested from the tree until it turns into a Primal Sole, ships to the customer, gets returned and upcycled to create new Primal Soles.

We already have a lifecycle assessment for our cork specifically, which is a negative CO2 production. We're part of 1% for the planet.    


Past experiences that instill value for the future

Life is kind of just an accumulation of experiences and inputs.

SDA Bocconi was an important input. Because of SDA Bocconi I got an MBA internship at Emma – where I started thinking about the importance of circularity and product lifecycle.Because of SDA Bocconi, I was the President of the Entrepreneurship Club, where I got to meet many inspiring founders. Because of SDA Bocconi, I got an amazing network of classmates and friends that supported my project from the beginning.

And the book “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, Nike’s founder was definitely an input.

I think SDA Bocconi really enabled me to become the entrepreneur that I wanted to be.

You really get to feel inspired while in a safe environment. SDA Bocconi gave me that extra confidence. It helped me open my mind and my perspective and gave me the time to think about the future.


David hopes to inspire other students to pursue a similar path and give back to the school by bringing his experience to seminars.

Last year, when Primal Soles hit the market with their MVP (Minimum Viable Product) it was largely supported by SDA Bocconi classmates. Being a lean startup that aims to set a new standard for the industry, Primal is able to incorporate customer feedback into their production process instantly.




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SDA Bocconi School of Management

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