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Why these startup guys scaled the roof of Wilmington’s Grand Opera House

WhyFly cofounders Mike Palita and Mark Thompson brought hardcore WiFi to the {OpenBracket finals last weekend. The rooftop install made for one heckuva photo.

WhyFly cofounders Mike Palita (at left) and Mark Thompson on the roof of the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Del. (Courtesy photo)
What do you do when you’re throwing a coding competition inside a 145-year-old opera house? You get on the roof.

That’s what Mike Palita and Mark Thompson, the cofounders of Wilmington-based internet service provider WhyFly, did when they were brought in to support the finals of {OpenBracket, the coding competition that, full disclosure, we at Technical.ly helped organize.
Expect to hear plenty more about WhyFly, a six-month-old venture from a pair of tech-scene veterans taking a fresh approach to a heavily regulated space dominated by telecom giants. No wonder they were heavily nominated for one of our Delaware Innovation Awards — voting is still open, btw. (Also check out Doug Rainey’s nice item on WhyFly’s launch.)
For starters, WhyFly is doing hardware installs for downtown Wilmington buildings, starting for individuals at $25 a month for 100 megabits per second. During {OpenBracket, with more than 100 technologists pushing code, streaming music and live chatting at the same time, speeds were spotted at over 200 Mbps.


Palita and Thompson are a perfect Delaware tech cofounder story: they met at that wellspring of First State tech leaders, ING Direct, where Thompson was CTO for nearly seven years and Palita was an IT operations manager. Until this summer, Palita was still in the data center technology director role at Capital One.
So was there any trick to dragging their hardware to the roof of Wilmington’s Grand Opera House, plus wiring the facility for both WiFi and hardwired internet access? Not really, said Thompson, noting the facility is made for theater lighting and other heavy equipment. The pair stepped out a door onto the roof. It helped that the event was held in the Grand’s more recent addition. All in all, it made for a hell of a photo.
Thompson joked: “Just say WhyFly was rising above it all.”

Companies: WhyFly / Capital One
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