Neil Ahlsten was making good money and had a comfortable job at Google when he decided to take a bold leap of faith and create an innovative company aimed at helping believers better facilitate Christian prayer.
Ahlsten, who worked on the financial team at Google before launching Abide, an effort that he said helps guide people “through an experience of talking to God and reflecting with God about scripture,” recently told Faithwire all about his journey integrating tech and faith in a pretty innovative way.
“We allow you to focus on the topics that matter most in your life,” he said of his team’s efforts at Abide.
In addition to a mobile prayer app that helps believers focus intently on Christian meditation, Ahlsten and his team have created an Alexa “flash briefing,” which enables the Echo and other devices to read daily biblical messages to users.
“It gives you a daily meditation as part of its daily experience,” he told Faithwire, adding that he eventually wants to make the app more topical to meet specific needs of users. On the app, where people can already search by topic, he said anxiety is the most popular topic and “singleness” is also popular among women.
Ahlsten also shared his backstory of creating a group of like-minded technologists from across Silicon Valley. It all started back in 2012 when he was still working at Google.
“I really felt a yearning to use the experience I had in technology to draw people closer to God,” he explained. “We got together and just started building a fellowship and finding like-minded believers in Silicon Valley — people who have great talent, experience and want to do something for the kingdom of God.”
So, the group — known as Carpenters Code — came together in an effort to “look for really interesting problems to solve.” Eventually, they landed on an audio-guded prayer product and set out to work. And what started out as a hobby aimed at making an impact transformed into a company with a purpose.
Of course, leaving Google was a bit of a leap for Ahlsten, who was making good money and was working on really interesting projects, but it was a move he was more than willing to make after realizing that the concept behind Abide would really fill a gap in the spiritual and technological marketplaces.
“The easy thing that made me leave is, once we actually hit a product idea, I realized, ‘This can help experience God very meaningfully and it does not exist,'” Ahlsten explained, noting that he also realized, “If we don’t build it nobody else will.”
In the end, he made the leap and it certainly paid off, as Abide has a half million people turning to the app each month for prayer. Overall, four million people have used the product and the staff has grown to five full-time employees and a dozen part-timers.
“God has been faithful, provided incredible team members and resources, investors, who has come up and participated,” he said.
Find out more about Abide here.