The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

By Hilary Kramer, InvestorPlace.com

NEW YORK ( InvestorPlace) -- Since the financial crisis, the IPO market has been a yawn. But as the equities markets improved over the last six months, investors have been warming-up to public offerings.

In some cases, the returns have been stunning. Just last week, the car-sharing service, Zipcar ( ZIP), saw its shares spike 56% on its first-day of trading. Some other hot ones include Qihoo 360 Technology ( QIHU), Dangdang ( DANG) and Youku ( YOKU). All have posted 100%+ returns.

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  • So how can individual investors get these types of gains? Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible. For the most part, Wall Street banks allocate IPOs to hedge funds, institutions and wealthy investors. It's a way to make their top clients happy.

    Despite this, there are still opportunities for individual investors. Keep in mind that -- if a company is a game-changer -- there should be ample long-term gains. After all, this was the case with companies like Google ( GOOG), Salesforce.com ( CRM) and Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG).

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  • And lately, there have certainly been some standout offerings. Let's take a look:

    ServiceSource IPO

    Founded in the late 1990s, ServiceSource ( SREV) has been able to build a solid business. ServiceSource helps companies manage their revenue streams, such as from renewals, maintenance and subscription agreements.

    The fact is that this can be a difficult process. But to make things easier, ServiceSource has developed a suite of cloud-based technologies to automate things. Yet the company also realizes that it needs to provide high-end services.

    The ServiceSource platform is a global offering, which is translated into over 30 languages. It also is available for a variety of industries like technology, life sciences and healthcare.

    From 2008 to 2010, revenue increased from $100.3 million to $152.9 million. Thus, ServiceSource trades at about 5 times revenue. While this may seem pricey, it is actually much cheaper than other cloud operators. Consider that Salesforce.com is trading 10 times revenue and SuccessFactors ( SFSF) is selling at a 14 multiple.

    GNC Holdings IPO

    Of course, GNC Holdings ( GNC) is a leading specialty retailer for health and wellness products. On a global basis, it is a dominant player, with over 7,200 locations. Actually, the company is 12 times larger than its next largest rival.

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