Igor Akrapovič, when the name becomes a brand
As a biker, the lack of high quality exhaust systems got on his nerves. As a businessman, he turned this nuisance into an opportunity and earned an unrivalled global reputation. He now sells at least 100,000 such devices every year (worth of €71 million in 2014), yet sky-rocketing profits haven’t made Akrapovic a less likable man. Slovenians look up to him and rejoice in the startling success of his company. None of Slovenia’s top 10 wealthiest people is outrageously and undeservedly rich – like it’s often the case with many nouveaux riches in most former Communist countries from Eastern Europe. Their combined wealth would only make up half of what Melania Knauss, the currrent Slovenian wife of billionaire Donald Trump, could inherit upon her husband’s death.
If there were a common thread to be traced in the lives of Slovenia’s richest, that would be a sort of ‘raw entrepreneurship.’ They started from scratch, had some brilliant ideas, and – thanks to sound business intuition and determination – they eventually made it to the top. This is how Igor Akrapovič did it.
Some 25 years ago, not even he could have imagined that one day he would be worth some €100 million and be known as the 6-7th richest Slovene. He just wanted to make a decent living after two decades (1970- 1990) of glory in his sports career. Although he was Yugoslavia’s most renowned motorcycling racer, he was no one in business.
But that was no particular disadvantage. In a time when Communism was crumbling, no one else knew how to run a business; nor whether a hobby could end up helping someone earn a living.
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