The world’s most frugal entrepreneurs

Portrait of Ingvar Kamprad, one of Director's frugal entrepreneurs

Who is the most parsimonious businessperson? Director compiles a list of the most frugal entrepreneurs 


Worth $41.9bn (£29.6bn)

He may have accumulated a multi-billion pound fortune and be a purveyor of flat-packed dreams, but 90-year-old Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad (above) still buys clothes at flea markets to save money. His hand-me-down habit was recently admitted to a Swedish documentary team but it isn’t Kamprad’s only thrifty proclivity. The entrepreneur lives in an unassuming bungalow, has confessed to getting his haircut in developing countries to save cash and flies on budget airlines.


Worth $66.1bn

The world’s third-richest man has lived in the same home in Nebraska since 1958, when he bought the five-bedroom pad for $31,500. Today it’s worth an estimated $591,000 (£417,000 – the price of a one-bedroom flat in Clapham, London). An inveterate philanthropist – he’s pledged to give away 99 per cent of his fortune – the yacht-less octogenarian even once urged US Congress to raise his taxes.

Warren Buffett portrait. The businessman made Director's most frugal entrepreneurs list (April issue)


Worth $16.7bn (at death)

The late Aldi co-founder lived a life of spartan frugality to rival the no-frills ethos of the German cut-price supermarket chain he founded with his brother in 1960. Wearing cheap suits, he favoured pencils over fountain pens in boardroom meetings and even attempted to haggle on his ransom when kidnapped for 17 days in 1971. The last published photo of Albrecht dates from this year, with the secretive billionaire living on a remote North Sea island until his 2010 death.

Last published photo of Theo Albrecht, one of Director's frugal entrepreneurs

Worth $15.6bn

“He makes Uncle Scrooge look like Santa Claus,” says one Bangalore tech executive of Wipro owner Premji. The Indian software tycoon joins our list of frugal entrepreneurs by keeping an eye on costs at Wipro facilities (reportedly monitoring toilet roll usage), recently pooling around in a 1996 Ford and shunning chauffer service in favour of auto-rickshaws at the airport when returning from business trips.

Portrait of Azim Premji on Director's frugal entrepreneursJOHN CAUDWELL

Worth $2.7bn

“I was brought up to be frugal and it’s definitely a factor in my success,” says Phones4u co-founder John Caudwell. He cycles 14 miles to work every day, buys his clothes from Marks & Spencer, dines on supermarket pizzas and even clippers his own hair. Previous interviews have noted Caudwell’s fondness for Happy Shopper orange juice and driving to France to buy cheaper champagne.

Portrait of John Caudwell, one of Director's frugal entrepreneursMARK ZUCKERBERG

Worth $47.5bn

Possibly taking a lead from Steve Jobs’s trademark black turtleneck, Zuckerberg arrives at work wearing an identikit grey T-shirt and hoodie every day. He drives a $30,000 (£21,200) Acura hatchback “because it’s safe, comfortable and not ostentatious” and avoided venue costs on his wedding by getting hitched in his back garden (before being spotted tucking into a McDonald’s with his new wife on honeymoon).

Portrait of Mark Zuckerberg, one of Director's most frugal entrepreneurs

About author

Christian Koch

Christian Koch

Alongside his work for Director, Christian has written features for the Evening Standard, The Guardian, Sunday Times Style, The Independent, Q, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, ShortList and Glamour in an eclectic career which has seen him interview everybody from Mariah Carey to Michael Douglas through to Richard Branson with newspaper assignments including reporting on the Japanese tsunami and living with an Italian cult.

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