While the recession has raised entry barriers for incubators pursuing the retail market, liquidity is widely available, especially for more established brands.

“The money is out there, and during the pandemic, it’s been as aggressive as ever,” said Ron Savelli, a food and beverage consultant for private equity firms and a baking industry veteran. “Believe it or not. I thought initially it would slow down, but the people I work with say it’s opened up more because there are a lot more business owners who are thinking about whether to sell their companies in today’s environment.”

Mr. Savelli pointed out that many private equity firms won’t touch incubators unless they have revenue stream or a high-potential new product that can be attached to a business they currently own. Startups — defined as businesses with under $1 million in annual sales — use venture capitalists or what he calls “angels,” which are private investors such as friends and family members of the entrepreneur.

Mr. Savelli cautioned incubators about giving up too much ownership to raise capital during the initial startup. Many private equity firms won’t invest in firms in which the owners hold only a minority interest. That said, bringing on investors creates a whole new outlook for a company.

“Growing a company that you own is like chasing a horizon,” Mr. Savelli told Baking & Snack recently. “You never get there. That’s your vision, and you chase it. The difference with private equity is that you find your horizon in four or five years before you have to exit and divest it again.”