Panel - Why I chose to take my company public

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Session recap

Time for an IPO? Road shows let investors know who you are

There are the traditional reasons to take a company public, such as liquidity and growth capital. But those aren’t the only reasons, according to panelists.

The IPO can have incredible impact when it comes to branding and marketing, notes Ken Goldman of Yahoo. And Susan Casey of Square 1 Financial says her company wanted to walk in the shoes of its customers.

But regardless of the reason, panelists agreed, there are certain leading practices. Getting out in front of investors early is key.

And the road show is vital, especially when it comes to making connections. (As V.S.S. Mani of Justdial notes, it’s also “really a lot of fun.”) Remember that most investors will have reviewed your numbers before the show starts; at the end of the process, they’re buying you and the management team.

To that end, investors are looking at body language and eye contact.

Look them straight in the eye,” Goldman said. “Be candid, and tell your own story in your own words very, very well.”

But that advice comes with two caveats. First, there is such a thing as being too involved with the road show, Goldman notes — you still have a business to run. And being straightforward doesn’t necessarily translate into offering market guidance. In fact, most panelists cautioned against it.

“As soon as you do that, you put your head in a noose,” says Anthony Podesta of McMillan Shakespeare. As Goldman says, “investors do take notes.”

When the time comes to go public, there are several points to consider:

  • Underpromise and overdeliver — the markets will take care of themselves
  • Select the right board
  • Select the right CFO — he or she will be a key lieutenant in the campaign
  • Get the pitch just right — for entrepreneurs, who are passionate about what they do, it’s all too easy to oversell

Going public isn’t for the faint-hearted, according to Podesta: “I thought I was working hard before we went public.” But an IPO can make the difference between good and great.

“Don’t be afraid to think big,” Casey says. “My dad had a saying: ‘Shoot for the stars; if you hit the moon, you’ve done OK.’”

Panel chair

EY - Jackie Kelley

Jackie Kelley
Americas IPO Leader

Panel members

EY - V.S.S. Mani

V.S.S. Mani
Founder and CEO


EY - Anthony Podesta

Anthony Podesta
McMillan Shakespeare Group
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Australia


Susan Casey
Founder and member Board of Directors
Square 1 Financial


Ken Goldman
Yahoo! Inc.