Cherry Tree Advises STAR Autism Support on its Recapitalization with Prairie Capital
“Cherry Tree put incredible time and effort into this project over the last year and from my perspective went above and beyond. I sincerely appreciate the work and will be recommending Cherry Tree to anyone and everyone.”
— Jesse Arick | CEO, STAR Autism Support
K-12 Education; Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Provider of evidence-based curriculum materials, workshops, and trainings, to K-12 school districts and teachers who work with special education students, especially those with autism.
Recapitalization / Sale to Financial Buyer
In September 2023 STAR Autism Support (STAR), a leader in providing products and services that help K-12 schools serve students in special education, was recapitalized by Prairie Capital, a Chicago-based middle-market private equity firm. STAR combines research-validated, evidence-based curriculum and professional development services to drive effective and consistent instruction throughout school districts. STAR’s system-wide implementation approach builds teaching capacity to help manage districts’ growing needs.
Cherry Tree’s Role:
Cherry Tree was engaged to help STAR and its shareholders identify the best partner to help the Company navigate its strong growth while maximizing shareholder value and maintaining its mission and value proposition. The Cherry Tree team advised STAR in a process that included both strategic entities as well as growth-oriented and experienced investors, where its role included preparing evaluation materials, effectively communicating the investment opportunity to potential investors and buyers, engaging with a wide range of qualified parties, soliciting proposals and negotiating attractive terms, and supporting the owners and management team through the diligence process and finalizing the definitive agreements.
STAR Autism Support: STAR was founded in 2004 with the mission of helping others successfully implement research-based techniques (including applied behavior analysis), so that every child with autism can receive effective instruction. Co-founded by Dr. Joel Arick, who began working with children with autism in 1973, and Sheila Magee, a curriculum author with over 30+ years of experience in the field of special education and autism, STAR provides evidence-based curriculum materials, workshops, and training to school districts and teachers who work with students with autism. STAR has supported over 2,500 K-12 districts and continues to develop innovative solutions for all students across the autism spectrum. To learn more, visit www.StarAutismSupport.com.
Prairie Capital: Founded in Chicago in 1997, Prairie Capital is a private equity fund with a long and successful track record of scaling growth-oriented, lower middle market companies in partnership with talented founders and management teams. Since inception, Prairie has invested over $1 billion in 100+ platform companies. Prairie makes control equity investments in founder-owned companies that require company-building investments to evolve into scalable platforms capable of sustaining accelerated growth. Prairie targets companies with $4 to $12 million in EBITDA that participate in growing subsectors within education, technology, business services, consumer, healthcare, and industrial.
Cherry Tree & Associates: Cherry Tree & Associates is a private investment banking firm headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Founded in 1980, it specializes in M&A transactions for both buyers and sellers of middle market companies. Additionally, it conducts private placements for high quality, entrepreneurially managed growth companies, provides strategic advisory services for CEOs and boards of directors, and prepares fairness opinions and other valuation services.