The Sky’s the Limit for St Helens Drone Company

26 Jul 2021


It’s often the case with new businesses that early success brings with it the problem of a shortage of funds. Such was the case when a local Drone supplier could not keep up with the huge demand for its products.

JetSet RC started trading in January this year, and is based in Claughton Street, St Helens. It was formed by drone enthusiast Carl Rafferty.

Carl has been an aviation enthusiast for as long as he can remember. He had his first flying lesson on his 14th birthday. He qualified as a pilot on his 17thbirthday, one of the youngest in Europe to do so. As Carl says, he was a qualified pilot before he could learn to drive a car.

Carls’ piloting skills led to a chance opportunity to fly drones in Ibiza, which led to full time employment. The pandemic put an end to that, and on returning to the UK he decided that he would turn his passion for aviation and drones into a business.

Conscious of his lack knowledge of business, Carl contacted the Chamber and received support from the Chamber Start Up Team.

“The Start up team helped me a great deal,” says Carl. “From the very first meeting I had some fantastic tutors and Steve Mather became my advisor, he has been really supportive in getting me started.”

The business is now up and running and its speed of growth has been phenomenal. One of the reasons for its success is its wide range of drones and associated equipment.

Carl says: “We supply the whole range of drones. We have products for the hobbyists and the wedding photographers. We can also supply the military, the airports as well as the police and fire services.  Our cheapest drone is under £250, our most expensive is a serious professional piece of kit. It has a 4.6 metre wingspan and has over 10 hours endurance time”.

The road has not been easy though and Carl has had to deal with many issues, including being just too successful.

“I prepared for many things when starting up, but I didn’t prepare for the business doing too well.” Says Carl, “The growth was so rapid that it actually caused us serious cash flow problems in the short term. We were burning through stock in first 10 days of every month. We had to find a way to get stock levels up, and the only solution was to get an injection of cash.”

Carl contacted the Chamber for help. He signed up for 12 hours of fully funded financial planning support and working with advisor John Woods set about putting together a detailed financial forecast, to demonstrate the viability of the business to potential lenders.

Carl applied for a loan from Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF), an organisation that  specialises in loans for businesses.

He says: “MSIF were really positive about my application, and very impressed with the detailed 3 years forecast that John and I worked on. They thought it was fantastically laid out and easy to follow. This actually made the application a lot easier for me, because I understood the forecast, and consequently was able to explain it to MSIF.”

The application was successful, and Carls’ priority, now that he has sufficient working capital, is to get the company’s stock levels up to service an impressive range of customers.

He says: “We have gained some high-profile orders from airports, public services and the military, to help them with safety and security. We’re not neglecting our hobbyist customers though. They are just as important to us, and we will continue to offer them a first-class service.”

Commenting on his overall support from the Chamber Carl says: “The support has been absolutely huge. I have an abundance of knowledge of aviation and drones, but I had none about business. I was overwhelmed with ideas, but not a lot of direction when it came to putting them into practice. Having the Chamber to point me in the right direction, and even sometimes just having some one to chat to, has been invaluable since I started.”

To find out more about St Helens Chamber Start Up Support, visit or if you would like to know more about St Helens Chamber Business Financial Planning Support, visit