Shares of MediaAlpha ($MAX), an insurance technology firm, started trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange at $22 per share and closed at $31.86 per share. 
The IPO is notably the Los Angeles-based company's first time raising outside capital. 
"We're self-funded, so the IPO is actually, if you can believe it, our first primary capital raising event," co-founder and CEO Steve Yi told Cheddar. "I think we had the operating discipline to continue to grow, but we also recognize that what got us here isn't necessarily going to be what takes us where we want to go because we see an enormous market opportunity." 
He added that public markets offer the company flexibility to take advantage of growth opportunities in the insurance industry, which has been "late in terms of consumer online transactional adoption, but it's here now, and there are seismic shifts awaiting the industry."
MediaAlpha provides customer acquisition technology to insurance providers looking to utilize data science to convert prospective customers into policyholders. The company works largely within the home and auto insurance category but plans to expand in other areas as well. 
"We work with well over 30 auto and home insurance companies to enable them to utilize their data science capabilities to identify those consumers who are less likely to convert into a policy and monetize those consumers by serving a set of comparison and referral listings for other insurance options," Yi said. 
He explained that the insurance industry is ripe for "technology-enabled disruption." 
"I think people forget that insurance is a $2 trillion annual industry that spends upwards of a $150 billion dollars annually in distribution," he said. 
The offering initially priced shares at $19, in the middle of an expected range of $18 to $20. 
The company's strong first-day performance comes as the overall stock market stumbled amid renewed concerns of a spike in coronavirus cases hobbling the economic recovery.