March 30 – Happy Birthday, Ingvar Kamprad

Posted on March 30, 2014

A lot of entrepreneurs start pretty young.

That was the case with Ingvar Kamprad, who was born in Sweden on this date in 1926. When he was still a young boy, he discovered that he could make a good profit by buying matches in bulk in Stockholm, and then selling the matches in small quantities or even individually. He went from neighbor to neighbor on his bicycle, peddling his matches. 

As a child, Kamprad looked ordinary.
But he had a definite gift for sales and
Then he started to sell other things as well. Fish, Christmas tree decorations, seeds, pens and pencils.

At this point, he was still just a kid!

When Kamprad was 17 years old, he started a business whose name is an acronym for his own name plus the name of the farm and town where he grew up: Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd.

You may have figured out that the company he started as a teenager was IKEA.

IKEA specializes in ready-to-assemble furniture plus appliances and home decorations / accessories. There are 349 IKEA stores in 43 countries (which actually seems like an incredibly low number, given the fact that there are four IKEAs within an hour's drive of my house!). IKEA sells billions of dollars worth of goods each year, and its website contains about twelve thousand different products!

Kamprad has become one of the wealthiest people in the world.

Did you know that IKEA is owned by non-profit foundations Kamprad has set up? His INGKA Foundation is dedicated to promoting “innovations in architecture and interior design,” but it has partnered with UNICEF and other organizations to provide things as varied as tsunami and earthquake relief, schools in Liberia, and environmental projects. It is unofficially the world's largest charitable organization, according to Wikipedia

IKEA has also entered the affordable-housing market. In other words, its not just what is IN the house that IKEA is providing, it's the house itself. Check out IKEA's BoKlok here

Did you know...?
  • While researching this post, I discovered that an IKEAs near me has a supervised play area for kids with a ball pit and a movie theater! I guess parents can drop their kids off there for free, for up to an hour! There are also children's play areas throughout the store (but parents have to supervise in these) and in the IKEA restaurant.
(Honestly, I didn't even know that there was an IKEA restaurant!)

  • And, get this, this IKEA host a tiny BUT FREE birthday party for the birthday kid (ages 10 or younger) and two friends, with entertainment, soda, cake, and a birthday gift from IKEA. That's pretty crazy, huh?
I am not sure if all IKEAs have this arrangement, but I've discovered that two here in California do. So, if there is an IKEA near you, check it out!

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