Who are you, and why do I care what you have to say?

Who are you, and why do I care what you have to say?

Read Time in min.
Jun 20, 2021
TL;DR: I'm Drew and you might not.
My name is Drew Bidlen, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I think critically about most everything I do. This can be annoying for everyone involved, but it results in strong opinions (hopefully loosely held) about the best way to do and think about life.
I played the "do well in school, so you can do well at a good school, so you get get a good job" game, but did it a little differently, which has resulted in a massive deviation from the norm. All my life, I expected to study electrical engineering. I liked math and science, and grew up playing with batteries and copper wire. By the end of high school, I aspired to a career in robotics. I knew I needed both software and electrical engineering skills to succeed as a roboticist (that’s the word I’d use in high school 😆), but figured that I could teach myself the software skills easier than the electrical engineering, so I got the EE degree. I constantly had a programming project, and enjoyed going to hackathons throughout college. In the summers and during Christmas breaks, I got the chance to intern on the R&D team for Cub Cadet’s robotic residential lawnmower division, which was an incredible learning opportunity. On nights and weekends, I learned more about investing and trading. I worked with a friend from high school to develop a semi-automated trading algorithm that was mildly successful (though extremely volatile). This was my first serious foray into trading.
I always described liking to toe the line between tech and business. My first real small business was a digital night vision company called Rolaid’s Night Vision. I worked with two classmates to design and build custom night vision setups for hunters, airsofters, and people with disabilities who still wanted to shoot. I learned a lot, and the business was acquired by a competitor shortly after we graduated. After college, I built a crowd-funded wisdom of the crowd driven “hedge fund.” I tested with 25 friends and family members, all of whom deposited real money. The results and feedback were great, but I shuttered the idea after I got a better understanding of the massive legal hurdles to getting it any further off the ground.
This taste of the startup founder life was great, but it was clear I had missed out on a lot of software skills that my CS friends had built. With this in mind, I decided to get a tech job and learn what it meant to build real software. This was a wonderful opportunity, because I was getting paid well to learn in an environment that my wife called “daycare for hipsters.” Not long after I started this job, an opportunity presented itself for me to work with my best friend, college roommate (and present day Indie Hacker extraordinaire) Noah Bragg. We built Mojo (which became CoffeePass) an order-ahead app for local coffee shops. We started in a single shop, and expanded slowly into others, improving our product along the way. After 9 months, I quit my day job to go full time, which checked an item off my bucket list. After another 9 months, we were approached by a software consulting firm, who had a similar idea and found us while doing their due diligence. After a long and convoluted process, we were acquired. CoffeePass opened my eyes to the world of market research, product-market fit, sales, marketing, building software that scales, fundraising, and acquisition. It was an incredible opportunity that I'll cherish forever. It taught me something that I'd always heard, but never believed, that building a startup isn't freedom, or being your own boss, but instead slavery to your customers and investors. Some people love it, but I learned that it wasn't for me, and that there are other ways to build businesses that aren't all consuming.
Throughout this entire process, I've been developing my views to life's biggest, most important questions. I grew up in a Christian home, where I was learned a lot about the Bible, but at some point I realized that I hadn't viewed it much differently than the classic novels from my literature classes. This was a turning point, where I began to approach it more seriously, and especially at first, more critically. Everything checked out, especially as I was exposed to reformed theology. Now I know who I am and why I'm here. I'm a sinner, but God is working in my life (though much more slowly than I'd like.)
If you want to talk more about anything I've mentioned, feel free to reach out! I'm not putting too much pressure or setting expectations for what this blog will look like, but I'm curious to see where it'll go!