What is an IPO Cycle?

| 5 min. read | By Olivia Foster
Explore the IPO cycle, from pre-IPO preparation. Understand the stages involved in taking a private company public and the significance of each step.

An IPO is a complex process that allows a private company to offer its shares to the general public for the first time.

This article provides an in-depth understanding of the IPO cycle, from its definition to the various stages involved:

Stages of the IPO Cycle

The IPO cycle consists of several stages, each with its own requirements and challenges. Let’s explore these stages in detail:

1. Pre-IPO Preparation

Before a company can go public, it must undergo thorough preparation to ensure a successful IPO. This stage involves various crucial tasks, such as:

  • Financial Statements: The company’s financial statements need to be audited and prepared in accordance with the applicable accounting standards. These statements include the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.

  • Corporate Governance: Establishing robust corporate governance practices and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements are essential steps to enhance transparency and accountability within the organization.

  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: The company must comply with all legal and regulatory obligations, including securities laws, to protect the interests of investors and maintain market integrity.

2. Selecting Investment Banks

One of the most critical decisions a company must make during the IPO process is selecting investment banks to underwrite the offering.

Investment banks play a crucial role in managing the IPO process and provide valuable expertise in areas such as pricing, marketing, and distribution.

  • Underwriting Agreement: The company and the selected investment banks negotiate the underwriting agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of the IPO, including the number of shares to be issued and the offering price.

  • Due Diligence: The investment banks conduct due diligence on the company’s financials, operations, and legal affairs to ensure accuracy and completeness of information presented in the prospectus.

3. SEC Registration and Prospectus Preparation

To go public, a company must file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This document, known as the Form S-1, contains essential information about the company and its offering.

  • SEC Review Process: The SEC reviews the registration statement and provides comments and feedback. The company and its legal counsel work closely with the SEC to address any concerns and ensure compliance with disclosure requirements.

  • Prospectus Preparation: The prospectus, a key component of the registration statement, provides detailed information about the company’s business, risks, financials, and management. It serves as a primary source of information for potential investors.

4. Marketing and Roadshow

Once the registration statement is declared effective by the SEC, the company enters the marketing and roadshow phase. This stage involves promoting the offering to potential investors and generating interest in the company’s shares.

  • Marketing Materials: Investment banks and the company’s management team collaborate to create compelling marketing materials, including presentations, brochures, and videos, highlighting the company’s value proposition and growth potential.

  • Roadshow: The roadshow is a series of presentations and meetings held by the company’s management team and investment bankers with institutional investors, analysts, and potential shareholders. The goal is to build investor confidence and generate demand for the offering.

5. Pricing and Allocation

Determining the offering price and allocating shares to investors are critical steps in the IPO process. The company and the underwriters work together to strike the right balance between maximizing proceeds and ensuring a successful aftermarket performance.

  • Pricing Process: The investment banks consider various factors, such as market conditions, investor demand, and the company’s financials, to determine the final offering price. This price should be attractive to investors while providing adequate returns for the company.

  • Share Allocation: The investment banks allocate shares to institutional investors and individual investors based on demand, investment size, and other factors. This allocation process aims to achieve a fair distribution of shares and avoid concentrated ownership.

6. Going Public and Post-IPO

Once the pricing and allocation process is completed, the company finally goes public and its shares start trading on a stock exchange. However, the IPO journey doesn’t end here.

The post-IPO phase involves ongoing compliance and reporting obligations, as well as managing the expectations of shareholders and the public.

  • Listing and Trading: The company’s shares are listed on a stock exchange, and trading begins. The company must comply with exchange rules and regulations, including disclosure requirements and corporate governance standards.

  • Quarterly Reporting: As a public company, regular financial reporting becomes mandatory. The company must file quarterly and annual reports with the SEC, providing updated financial information, management discussions, and analysis of results.

  • Investor Relations: Maintaining good relationships with shareholders and the investment community is crucial. The company’s investor relations team engages with investors, analysts, and the media to address inquiries, provide updates, and manage expectations.


The IPO cycle is a complex and multi-faceted process that enables a private company to become publicly traded. From the pre-IPO preparation to the post-IPO responsibilities, every stage requires careful planning, compliance, and execution.

By understanding the various stages of the IPO cycle, companies can navigate this transformative journey successfully and capture the benefits of going public.

For further reading and references, you can visit the following resources:

Back to Blog

Can IPOs be Used in Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research offers a multidimensional view of IPO processes, illuminating underlying motivations, regulatory perceptions, and market sentiments that numerical data alone cannot capture.