We talked to Holger Sindbaek of Online Solitaire about programming and designing, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Holger Sindbaek: It’s been a difficult time and a trying time for sure. No-one in the family has had the coronavirus yet, but we have all been affected by the restrictions that have gone into effect in response to the virus.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Online Solitaire.
Holger Sindbaek: I’m a designer-turned-developer. I started down the path of UI/UX-design over 10 years back but soon got tired of not actualizing all the different apps and websites I was designing, which led me to go down the path of becoming a self-taught programmer.
My first job was as a designer in a startup in San Francisco. I loved the startup environment, but I really wanted to get into programming instead of designing. That led me to attend a 3 months programming course in what used to be called Hacker School (they’re now called Recourse Center), which is like a writers retreat for programmers.
I learned to program the same way as most programmers do, which is by writing little projects that challenge your programming skills. Solitaire was one of those little projects I did. At the time, I wanted to get into a new programming language called Rubymotion, which led me to programming solitaire for Mac. It turned out to be somewhat of a success (just earning me a bit of beer money), so I decided to keep working on it.
How does Online Solitaire innovate?
Holger Sindbaek: It’s limited how much innovation can be done in the solitaire game space, but I’d like to think that my solitaire version has a nicer design and gameplay than most other sites. Having a background as a designer means that I put a lot of emphasis on that in my projects, and I think it shows with Online Solitaire.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Holger Sindbaek: All in all, my online solitaire website has actually benefitted somewhat from this whole coronavirus situation. The site hasn’t gotten more users, even though one should think that people are staying home playing solitaire. At the first wave of coronavirus, I had to work from home, which meant I had a lot of free time all of a sudden—that free time got spend improving the site, including SEO and usability.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Holger Sindbaek: Luckily, my little side-business hasn’t been affected financially too much by this whole situation. The site’s revenue took a bit of dip at the first wave when all the advertisers got scared, but luckily that has gone up again since.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Online Solitaire in the future?
Holger Sindbaek: Luckily, Online Solitaire is a side-business and, therefore, not my main source of money, which alleviates a lot of the stress and anxiety. Dealing with stress is always a challenge, though. I have a very long list of things I’d like to do on the side, and one needs to be very good at prioritizing not getting stressed about a project like this.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Holger Sindbaek: There’s a lot of competitors in the solitaire space, and I don’t really plan to compete too much with them. I’m content with keeping Online Solitaire a side-business, which means that it’s not a big deal if the revenue goes down a bit.
Your final thoughts?
Holger Sindbaek: I think that dealing with COVID-19 has been a challenge for all of us, especially for entrepreneurs. Luckily my little side-business hasn’t been affected too much because of COVID-19, but I wish the best for all of my fellow entrepreneurs out there. And remember, if you’re locked in due to COVID-19, you can always play a game of Solitaire.
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