Alex Baker built his first website when he was just 13 after stumbling across a website for freelancers. “There was a post asking for a new website for £40 - it was such a small fee that most freelancers would never have done it. But for me, £40 for a few hours of work was huge. It was the equivalent of a whole month of paper rounds.”

Eight years on, he’s designed around 350 websites. First, through the business that he ran at school and more recently through his web design business, Verrier. Alex, 21, is based in Oxford.

To manage his personal and business finances, Alex uses Starling. “I’m really happy to be with Starling. You can get the support you need from Customer Service in the click of a button and it comes from Starling itself, not an external company. I also think the partnership with Trillion Trees is amazing - making a profit and giving back at the same time is how business should be.”

Every month, Starling plants trees through Trillion Trees, a joint venture of BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and WWF.

Building websites and giving back

Sustainability is at the core of what makes Verrier different. Verrier plants trees in a forest project run by technology platform Ecologi. The number of trees added is calculated as a percentage value of services purchased by customers. “The Ecologi platform is very transparent. You can see how many trees have been planted so far and where they are in the world.”

Alex also encourages clients to plant additional trees through Ecologi in place of paying for small website tweaks. “For something that only takes us 10 minutes, we’d rather they just pay for a few trees to be planted. We’re here for long-term profits and giving back.”

Learning on the job

Alex taught himself how to code in his teens, learning on the job when running his first website design business. In 2019, he shut the company down to focus on his business studies course at Oxford Brookes University. But he quickly found that studying business wasn’t enough. He longed to be back in the world of entrepreneurship. He took a break to found his second company Verrier. And never looked back.

“Leaving university to run a business full-time was daunting but it was the best decision I could have made.”

Alex runs Verrier full-time, working with five team members to create websites for a wide variety of companies. “Business is better than ever. Through the digital boom that came with lockdown, more businesses want to have an online presence.”

Managing a financial future through Starling

Alex signed up for his Starling personal account two years ago. He opened a Starling business account for Verrier in 2020.

“The payment notifications are so helpful,” he says. “I also like being able to pay in cheques through the app.”

Earlier this year, he set up a pension with PensionBee through the Starling Marketplace. Alex has almost always worked for himself and didn’t have a company pension. “The integration with PensionBee is amazing. Seeing both your business finances and pension balance in the same app makes everything much easier to manage.”

Remember that with investments, your capital is at risk. This means that the value of your pension can go down or up, so you could get back less than you invested.

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