Insights on Instigating an IPO

It’s always wonderful when a successful business leader takes time to share his or her experiences with students at the Opus College of Business, and it’s even more special when the person sharing this knowledge is an alumnus. That’s just one of the reasons why this past Friday’s Master’s Pub program, “The Road to a Successful IPO (initial public offering) in the New Economy,” featuring Executive UST MBA graduate Kim Nelson, was so interesting. Master’s Pub is a social and educational series that brings together St. Thomas MBA students and alumni every few months to learn about achievements in business.

Nelson has been CFO of SPS Commerce since 2007 and was instrumental in taking that company public.

“It was the most amazing and rewarding experience,” she said.

Minneapolis-based SPS Commerce’s services take advantage of the new breed of software, often referred to as “cloud computing” or “Software-as-a-Service,” that connects global trading partners. Some of the lessons Nelson learned during the IPO process involved four "Ps" - preparation, people, perspective and process:

Do as much as possible early in the process. For example, work to build relationships with bankers and analysts.

Having a strong team is essential with a project of this magnitude.

Understand that only so much is controllable.

Remember that taking a company public is very time consuming, and it is only one project on top of a job’s regular duties.

In her role, Nelson has helped SPS Commerce grow to become the largest trading partner integration center and a leader in on-demand supply chain management solutions. In April 2010, SPS Commerce (NASDAQ: SPSC) became one of the first successful IPOs since the recession began. The Wall Street Journal heralded SPS as an “obvious hit with investors” as its stock closed up 13 percent, selling more shares than expected.