Asked on the street, hardly anyone would know who it was Ingvar Kamprad. However, his legacy as an entrepreneur is a great venture that almost everyone has bought into at some point. the founder of IKEAthe global furniture giant, has a history that is as admirable as it is unknown to the general public.
Ingvar Kamprad was born in Sweden in 1926 and grew up on a family farm in the province of Småland. The entrepreneurial character shaped his life early on. This is proof of that Already at the age of 17 he founded Ikea.with what little money his father had given him to get good grades in school.
Despite being one of the most well-known furniture manufacturers in the world today, the original Ikea had a very different activity: selling matches. Ingvar Kamprad bought this product in bulk and then sold it on the street for a fairly modest profit margin.
Unlike today’s great entrepreneurs who, thanks to investors, have managed to grow their company exponentially in a short period of time, the case of Ingvar Kamprad is an example of sustainable organic growth. After the games, he started selling decorative products, seeds, wallets, pencils or pens.
It wasn’t until 1951, eight years after Ingvar Kamprad founded Ikea, that the company published its first furniture catalogue. Such was the success in this sector that Swedish merchants began to ask manufacturers not to supply the company with goods, a situation that forced the entrepreneur to make serious decisions.
But as in almost all stories about great entrepreneurs, one of Ingvar Kamprad’s virtues was turning failures into successes. The entrepreneur looked for raw materials outside of Sweden and started designing his own furniture and decorative items, trying to expand beyond the borders of his native country.
The legacy of Ingvar Kamprad
78 years after Ikea was founded, Ingvar Kamprad’s legacy is an example for thousands of entrepreneurs around the world, although it has not gone uncontroversial. The Swede came to flirt with a pro-Nazi group, for which he publicly apologized, and suffered from several bouts of alcoholism.
In 1986, at the age of 60, Kamprad left the management of Ikea, leaving responsibility to his sons, who knew how to restart an international expansion that has made the Swedish company the most famous furniture manufacturer in the world.
Ingvar Kamprad distinguished himself throughout his life be a rather strict person, who traveled by bus even though he had built up an entire millionaire empire. Finally, he died in 2018 at the age of 92, five years after retiring to a farm near his birthplace.
Today Ikea is one of the ten largest retail chains in the world. They have 440 stores in 30 countries and bill €39,600 million a year. Ingvar Kamprad’s heirs still own the company and have demonstrated a similar entrepreneurial flair as their father.