Founder Stories: Holger Sindbaek On Building Online Solitaire

In today’s Founder Story we feature Holger Sindbaek founder of Online Solitaire. 

Read on for lessons he’s learned from launching and marketing his solitaire platform. 

1) Please introduce your business and share your role. 

My name is Holger, and I’m a designer-turned-developer from Denmark and the founder of Online Solitaire, an online solitaire platform. I’m a one-man show, meaning I’m responsible for everything in my business.

I’ve studied UI/UX design, but after ending my studies I changed direction and became a self-taught programmer, and since then, that has been my main focus. Having a background in design has been when creating Online Solitaire. It has allowed me to be self-sufficient since I can do everything myself. I’ve designed and programmed Online Solitaire from scratch, and to this day, I maintain and add features to the site myself.

These days more than one million people play more than four million games of solitaire on the platform, which features 320 different variations of solitaire.

2) What’s your backstory, what kind of challenges did you face, and how did you come up with your business idea?

I created my first solitaire game 15 years back. It was an that I made for the Mac App Store. I created the app as a fun little project that would allow me to learn a new programming language with the hope that it would generate some income on the side. And I didn’t do anything special when I released the first app. I simply went through the review process, the app got released, and then I hoped for the best. I didn’t have too high hopes, so the day after, when I saw that 100 people had downloaded it and it had generated $20, I was thrilled. That doesn’t seem like much, but for a young man who was just doing a fun little project on the side, it felt great!

Since then, I’ve worked in a lot of different places, but I’ve always had my solitaire game as a side hustle. I ended up traveling to New York to co-found a startup, a marketplace for sneakers and streetwear, where I had the role of CTO. I ran that company for three years, but in the end, we got beaten by our competitors. After that, I was kind of burned out, and that’s when I decided to focus on my solitaire game for a while. So I designed and programmed my games again from scratch and that’s how Online Solitaire was born.

I then ran my website as a side hustle for several years, but recently it has grown so big that it has become my main source of income. So now I work full-time on the site.

3) How did you prepare for, and go about your launch? 

I think that launching is overrated. At least, it has been for my card games. I think it might have something to do with the nature of the games. They’ve been known for a long time, so there’s nothing really groundbreaking about them. In my experience, even if you have a good launch with a lot of new visitors, it’ll be a very short-lived experience. So you’ll have to find a more long-term plan to get people to visit you.

4) Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?

Search has, by far, been the best way to get people to visit my site. Search from Google, search from people in the Google Play Store, the Chrome Store and other places. Solitaire is one of those things people search for, so making sure that my site pops up when they do is one of my main jobs.

Lately, I’ve also been running some campaigns for different events. I recently created an Earthday Solitaire, which helps people learn important facts about the climate and recycling. I’ve also created a Christmas Solitaire for the upcoming Christmas season. 

5) What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?

I really like Buzzstream for outreach, and I always use Grammarly when writing. As a non-native English speaker, it really helps to have an app like Grammarly to help improve my writing.

6) Who or what inspires and motivates you?

Anyone who is running their own internet business. I fall into the category of “solopreneur”, which is a category of its own in the entrepreneurial space. For example, I often talk with Marya from World of Card Games, another solopreneur, who runs her gaming platform all by herself. We talk about the issues and ups and downs we have without respective sites, and I always find our talks motivating.

7) What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched? 

If you can start your business as a side hustle, that’ll be a much safer path. I’ve tried to both quit my job and gone all-in on my business and run a business as a side hustle until it could sustain itself. There’s no right or wrong, but in my experience, it’s financially less stressful to start your business as a side hustle and then go all in once you’ve reached a certain level.

8) What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?

A good entrepreneur has the drive and the ability to execute. He or she also needs to have a lot of empathy with people, to be a good team leader and communicator. 

9) Let us know where we can go to learn more! 

You can play a game of Klondike Solitaire, FreeCell, or Spider Solitaire on Online Solitaire. If you’re more into jigsaw puzzles, I also have a jigsaw puzzle site called Online Jigsaw Puzzles and I recently released a fun little tile game called 2048 Online.

If you want to ask me any questions, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn.