Ikea

With one wrench, Ingvar Kamprad gave the world access to great design

In the early 1940s, most small-town Swedish children were busy with socializing and schoolwork, but not Ingvar Kamprad, who was obsessed with selling matches to his neighbors (the business-savvy child would ride his bicycle from house to house). Success with matches led to other bulk products like fish, pencils and Christmas-tree decorations. Little did Kamprad know that his efforts would grow into a $12.2 billion multinational retail business with more than 150 instantly recognizable blue-and-yellow megastores.

In 1943 Kamprad created Ikea with a cash gift from his father. The name was derived from his initials plus the first letters of the...

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