When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
This adage has long represented the notion of making the most of the hand you were dealt.
While you may be unable to control your circumstances, you can control the way you respond.
There are few places this rings truer than the world of startups.
In this case, the “lemons” are the landscape of the business world. After all, we can’t dictate the context in which we operate our businesses. Instead, we must tailor the business to best serve the context.
That endeavor is precisely the lifeblood of the startup ecosystem.
When we talk about making the most of a sour bag of fruit, well, there may be nothing sourer than the state of our climate.
One of the contributors to climate change is runoff from farms and sewage. And it isn’t just chemicals and toxins seeping into the waterways, but a newfound imbalance in the order of the ecosystem.
For example, there is currently a 5,000-mile-wide mass of sargassum – a type of seaweed – floating across the Atlantic, impacting the Gulf of Mexico.
And while in normal quantities sargassum is beneficial, in such immense quantities it creates more problems than it solves.
Thankfully, there are startups prepared to make lemonade.
One such startup, Carbonwave, just received $5 million of funding for a business plan that involves turning this excess sargassum into such byproducts as cosmetic emulsifiers, syrup, bricks, and even jet fuel.
When left untouched, sargassum negatively impacts coral reefs and eventually finds its way onto the shores of beaches. On said beaches, it rots and turns tropical locales into sulfuric-smelling slogs.
So, by focusing specifically on sargassum rather than general algae, Carbonwave (and other similar startups) is hyper focused on not just devising a beneficial solution, but devising a solution to a fast-growing problem.
“We need to put it to good use before it creates more ecological and climate harm,” Carbonwave CEO Geoff Chaplin told TechCrunch.
For the startups putting these lemons to good use, the market for lemonade appears to offer intriguing upside.
And for investors, finding situations where an excess of lemons has piled up can present a peak into the future of opportunities.