Ingvar Kamprad was born on a farm called Elmtaryd (now spelled Älmtaryd), near the small village of Agunnaryd in Ljungby Municipality in the province of Småland, Sweden. Kamprad began to develop a business as a young boy, selling matches to neighbors from his bicycle. He found that he could buy matches in bulk very cheaply from Stockholm, sell them individually at a low price and still make a good profit. From matches, he expanded to selling fish, Christmas tree decorations, seeds and later ball-point pens and pencils. When Kamprad was 17, his father gave him a reward for succeeding in his studies . He used this money to establish what has grown into IKEA.
The acronym IKEA is made up of the initials of his name (Ingvar Kamprad) plus those of Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born; and the nearby village Agunnaryd.
Kamprad has admitted that his dyslexia played a large part in the inner workings of the company. For example, the Swedish-sounding names of the furniture sold by IKEA were originally chosen by Kamprad because he had difficulty remembering numeral stock-keeping units.
Kamprad has lived in Epalinges, Switzerland since 1976. According to an interview with TSR, the French language Swiss TV broadcaster, Kamprad drives a 15 year old Volvo, flies only economy class, and encourages IKEA employees to always write on both sides of a paper. In addition Kamprad has been known to visit IKEA for a cheap meal. He is also known to buy Christmas paper and presents in the post-Christmas sales. While Kamprad's frugality is well documented, it is also an important part of the carefully managed image presented to IKEA employees and the general public. He less frequently mentions that he owns a villa in an upmarket part of Switzerland, a large country estate in Sweden and a vineyard in Provence in France or that he drove a Porsche for several years.While working with furniture manufacturers in Poland earlier in his career, Kamprad became an alcoholic. He has however stated that his drinking is now under control.