ICO stands for Initial Coin Offering. It is a similar to ‘crowdfunding’ where a company issues its own cryptocurrency with a purpose of funding the project behind it. It usually issues a certain number of crypto-tokens and then sells those tokens to its intended audience, most commonly in exchange for bitcoin or ethereum, but it can be fiat money as well.
As a result, the company receives the capital to fund the product development and the audience members receives their crypto token shares. Plus, they have complete ownership of these shares. That way companies also try to bypass the rigorous and regulated capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks.