Do you drink coffee?

I want to start by asking, how do you take your coffee? 

Black? A bit of milk? One, maybe two lumps?

Well, if you’re the kind of person pulling up to the drive-thru ordering a double-double, you need to say thank you to one Mr. Michael Duck.

You probably don’t know it, but if it wasn’t for Mr. Duck, you’d likely still be tearing open sugar packets, spilling them (and probably your coffee) all over the car, and fighting off ant infestations all summer long.

See, Michael grew up wanting to be a garbage man. He spent his teenage years washing dishes, mopping floors, and peeling potatoes.

But way, way back in 1985, at home in his basement in Lower Sackville, he was tinkering around and came upon a better way to get the sugar in your daily cup’a joe.

And from there, he turned around and sold that first iteration to a little old coffee house you just might happen to know by the name of Tim Horton’s.

And that changed the direction of his entire life.

And little did you know, it changed the world.

Now, it mightn’t be important to you, who puts your sugar in your coffee.

But I hope you can come to appreciate that an unknown black man continues to affect the lives of nearly every coffee drinker in the country, if not the world.

And that, is something that I think ought to be celebrated.

See, I’ve not even made my mark yet, and I’m being asked to tell about my experience in the Nova Scotia startup community.

Sure, I’ve had my experiences, both good and bad, but with my little contribution to date, what makes me the worthy voice to be heard?

Founders of colour are so underrepresented in our ecosystem, that even when one has touched the lives of just about everyone who will ever have coffee anywhere in this country, most people don’t even know who he is.

And that to me is part of the problem.


Michael Duck developed the first portion-control dispenser. He is CEO and Founder of A.C. Dispensing Equipment and CEO of SureShot Solutions. 

Charles F.Milton is the founder of Halifax startup

Editor's note: Given the events of recent weeks, we wanted to host a discussion on whether people from the Black, First Nations and other minority communities are welcomed, supported and funded in the Atlantic Canadian startup ecosystem. We've asked representatives of these communities to offer their thoughts. This is the third article in this series.