Swiss app developer riding  wave of success
Riding a wave: Micha Fuhrmann. Picture: Rob Browning

From an idea that started as a ripple for a visiting Swiss beach bum as he surfed up and down the WA coast, Micha Fuhrmann is now making big waves as head of an unheralded multimillion- dollar business empire.

Mr Fuhrmann looks out on the ocean from his adopted Geraldton home and ponders a life he could hardly have scripted, dealing in the high finance more synonymous with his childhood home of Geneva.

His Bluff Point house is not far from the Geraldton caravan park he used as a base for three years in the early 2000s as he lugged his swag from Gnarloo to Margaret River in search of the perfect surf.

But fearing his life back then was meandering to nowhere, he returned to Switzerland and gave rise to his booming independent software publisher, DigiDNA.

The company was the first to release a commercial application to read the iPhone file system.

It also tapped strongly into the iTunes Store with its file browser and viewer utility FileApp.

DigiDNA has since attracted more than 20 million individual downloads at prices from 99¢ to $6.

"Someone asked me what I was doing and I told them I was just windsurfing and playing my guitar," Mr Fuhrmann said.

With an Australian passport - he was born in Sydney to well-travelled German parents - he felt a constant calling from Down Under throughout his youth.

So in 2000, he sold his car, quit his job in Geneva and made Perth his destination after a friend told him about Australia's windy west coast.

On moving to Geraldton, he met a young Swiss doctor and the pair's simple desire to share their music by retrieving it from their iPods led to a business plan that would change their lives.

Sitting in a local caravan park, they developed an app known as CopyPod, which attracted interest from the New York Times and went "bang".

About 18 months later, Mr Fuhrmann sold his half-share in CopyPod and after an agreed "two- year" cooling off, enlisted Swiss friend Jerome Bedat in 2006 to help him develop better music retrieval software, which became known as TuneAid.

Another friend, Victor Broido, is now also a partner and has moved to Geraldton, too.

The company is now developing software which, for example, would allow a schoolteacher to program a lesson and send it to a classroom full of devices.

Mr Fuhrmann, who was once a Swiss army tank driver, moved to Geraldton for good in 2009 and lives there with wife Virginie and their daughter, Eoline, 3.

Because of his continuing passion for the WA surf, he only spends just over a month each year in Geneva.

He said wave kiteboarding was his "detox" from the stress a booming business brings.

Smartphone users: Get the Geraldton Guardian news feed on www.infogo.com.au - our smartphone-friendly platform.

The West Australian

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