Sam Harrons, founder of Compendia, is on a mission to shine a light on independent businesses, makers and creative talent.

Together with his team of freelancers, Sam creates printed and online insider travel guides on where to eat, shop and explore, designed for both locals and visitors. By uncovering hidden gems across Norwich and Norfolk, he aims to encourage a thriving ‘support your local’ culture.

“Ultimately we’re creating compendia, collections of detailed information, for different places,” says Sam, 32. “The next step is to mirror what we’ve done in Norwich in other cities across the world.”

Sam Harrons, founder and creative director of Compendia

The latest city guide, which has a particular focus on Norfolk-based sustainable businesses, was released earlier this year. Compendia has also launched an online shop. Sam uses Starling to manage the business finances.

Championing local businesses

“New businesses often come to us before launching to help get their name out there, create content and share their story,” says Sam, who has become well-known within the independent creative scene in Norwich. The online guide is regularly updated with new ventures and places to visit.

Businesses featured in the latest printed guide include a family-run contemporary art and book store, a bakery that makes everything from scratch and focuses on plant-based ingredients, a craft shop that sells state-of-the-art stationary, and a store that sells vinyl records, which customers can browse while enjoying a selection of craft beer.

Compendia highlights the best spots to eat, drink, play and shop in and around Norwich

The guides are funded through advertorials, commissioned by featured businesses and written by one of the six freelancers working for Compendia. “We sell advertising but we create the content,” he says. Compendia also has partnerships with local universities who buy the guides to encourage prospective students to choose Norwich as a place to study.

The covers of Compendia’s hardcopy printed guides are made from recycled coffee cups. For every guide printed, it plants one tree through the organisation Treekly. The trees are grown and looked after by Eden Reforestation Projects.

Simple banking with Starling

“I love the look and feel of Starling,” says Sam. “Having a vertical card is a no-brainer. I was also really pleased to see that the cards have become more eco-friendly.” Starling’s debit cards are made from recycled plastic and delivered in 100% recyclable packaging.

He uses Starling for both his personal and business banking. “I tried out a couple of challenger banks. And from the get go, Starling was the most user-friendly,” he says. “I never used to be but I now feel like I’m the person who is on top of my money.”

Sam especially enjoys Starling’s Saving Spaces feature, which enables him to set aside money from his main balance for a particular purpose, such as driving lessons.

In 2020, Sam signed up to the Starling Toolkit, software that enables him to do his banking and bookkeeping through one seamless online platform. “The Toolkit is a game changer. It’s helped me create healthy habits around running a business - I upload every receipt, create and track invoices, and ensure each transaction is tagged under the right category. As a creative person that doesn’t love spreadsheets and numbers, the Starling Toolkit has made me the man I never thought I could be in business,” he says.

“I’m always recommending Starling, and it’s a genuine and sincere recommendation. It’s made my life easier as a business owner and individual.”

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