Creative Learning

Cherry Tree Advises Creative Learning Systems

“We were extremely happy with the job Cherry Tree did advising us in the sale of a majority stake in our business. Their process led to a higher valuation than other advisors told us to expect, and most importantly they never lost focus on our personal goals and our desire to ensure a good outcome for all stakeholders. They did a great job of focusing buyers on the most attractive elements of our business, and created a competitive environment that allowed us to pick a great financial partner. They also negotiated successfully through what were sometimes difficult issues, and I could tell that their relationships with decision makers and their knowledge of the market helped build credibility. We recommend Chad and Cherry Tree without reservation, especially for M&A engagements in the education markets!.”

Gary Nelson, Owner
Creative Learning Systems

Transaction Description

Creative Learning Systems sold a majority equity interest to Brass Ring Capital. Creative Learning Systems is the leading provider of engaging, turn-key STEM Labs in K-12 schools across the U.S. STEM Labs engage students in learning core 21st century skills in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Brass Ring is a private investment firm focused on partnering with leading businesses in growth markets.

Cherry Tree’s Role

Cherry Tree was retained by Creative Learning Systems to advise the owners Gary Nelson and Matt Dickstein on their strategic alternatives, as Gary was planning his retirement. It was important to Gary and Matt any outcome protect the culture, customers, and employees of the company, while supporting their strategic plan and not disrupting their rapid growth. Cherry Tree advised the company through a process that included introductions and discussions with numerous potential acquirers and financial partners, soliciting proposals, negotiating terms, supporting the due diligence process, and facilitating the closing of the transaction.

About Creative Learning Systems

Creative Learning Systems, based in Longmont, CO, is the leading provider of engaging STEM and digital media programs for elementary, middle and high schools. The company calls these fully-integrated learning environments, SmartLabs™. Since creating the first technology lab in a U.S. school in 1987, Creative Learning Systems has pioneered STEM and digital media arts programs in K-12 education. Together with its partner schools across the country, Creative Learning Systems puts technology in the hands of students and engages them with personalized, problem-based learning. Additional information about Creative Learning Systems can be found at

About Brass Ring Capital

Brass Ring Capital, founded in 2004, is a private investment firm focused exclusively on ownership transitions and growth initiatives. Their approach targets acquisitions and recapitalizations that provide liquidity solutions for owners and resources for managers to empower promising emerging companies. Brass Ring is currently investing via its second equity fund into companies with revenue between $5 and $50 million. The Brass Ring approach to business ownership transitions is collaborative, striving to meet the goals of both business owners and managers. Throughout the firm’s history it has demonstrated an ability to close deals and position companies for success, and provide the necessary resources and depth of experience to grow companies post-transaction. For more information on Brass Ring, visit

About Cherry Tree & Associates

Cherry Tree & Associates, LLC is a private investment banking firm headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, specializing in serving entrepreneurially-managed companies. Founded in 1980, the firm provides financial advisory engagements for buyers, sellers, and companies seeking growth capital, and provides fairness opinions and other valuation services.

Cherry Tree & Associates provides investment banking services through our FINRA-licensed broker dealer.