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MyOwnBusiness Institute


Picture of the storefront of Drake's Place

Picture of the storefront of Drake's Place

Charles Drake Seizes the Moment to Advance a Dream

With the help of MOBI partner MyBluefield and its free online entrepreneurship training program, local resident Charles Drake realized his long term goal of owning a restaurant.

Photo of Drake's Place owner Charles Drake


If you’re passing through Bluefield, West Virginia, and want the best dirt cake in town, look no farther than Drake’s Place.

Opened last spring by local resident Charles Drake, whose previous restaurant experience was working at a Chick-fil-A®, Drake’s Place is the realization of a longtime goal of owning a restaurant where families can grab a burger together, getting quick service and homemade meals a far cut above fast food.

The eponymous eatery is the culmination of a dream fostered by Drake’s access to free education in entrepreneurship, in a series of online classes offered by the Bluefield West Virginia Economic Development Authority (also known as BEDA or “ MyBluefield”).

In June 2020, BEDA launched free online entrepreneurial training via a partnership with the My Own Business Institute (MOBI) at Santa Clara University . MOBI is the world's leading provider of free online education for entrepreneurs.

MOBI’s foundational business courses have been implemented by organizations around the globe to support and encourage economic development within their communities through entrepreneurship. The courses teach new entrepreneurs both how to start a business and how to grow a business. Through accessible and actionable curriculum and videos, online students learn how to write a business plan, finance their endeavor, pursue marketing, build clientele, and create a successful team.

“We sought a way to put practical and valuable tools into the hands of local small business owners or aspiring start-ups easily,” said Jim Spencer, Bluefield’s director of economic and community development. “Our goal is to connect people with resources. We were going to try to put together our own entrepreneur bootcamp prior to COVID-19. I was going to have to bring in instructors and build the curriculum, and that would be a Herculean task, but MOBI has done it all for you. So why recreate the wheel?”

MOBI’s online curriculum consists of four courses of seven to 15 sessions each: Starting a Business, Business Expansion, Quick Start Entrepreneur, and Sales and Marketing. Students who finish a course and pass the final exam earn a Certificate of Completion, issued by Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. BEDA has seen tremendous interest in its program. To date, 82 people have enrolled in the course, and 17 have earned a certificate.

BEDA supplements MOBI courses with offerings that continue to support and take entrepreneurs to the next level of learning and mastering new business skills. These include further training and workshops for graduates, office hours, one-on-one discussions with business consultants, help with grant writing, and assistance with marketing and social media.

There’s even a “speed-dating” event, where entrepreneurs sit at tables while seasoned business owners circulate, spending 12 minutes talking to each one. Business owners share their experiences of what worked, what didn’t, mistakes made, and lessons learned along the way.

“One of the best things about MOBI is that it’s free,” said Spencer. “I believe that education is a stair step, once you’ve taken the MOBI intro course we encourage folks to continue. Two new classes we’re offering are Adapting in the Midst of Change and Microfinancing for Entrepreneurs.”

Charles Drake is all for seizing the moment to advance a dream. “Opportunities are such that you can either take an opportunity or leave it. MOBI is certainly an opportunity, and to have the city put resources into a free class is extremely rare. Whether you want to start a business or not, it’s a good opportunity to learn," he said.

Logos for MyBluefield and Drake's Place

MOBI Success, MOBIPartnerSuccess