When you walk into Tracy Morgan's concert Friday at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater, you'll have to hand over your cellphone. An attendant will lock it up in a little pouch, give it back to you, then unlock it at the end of the night.
It's the first appearance in Florida by the San Francisco startup Yondr, which seeks to create phone-free experiences at concerts and special events "where people can be swept into a shared mood," said founder and CEO Graham Dugoni.
Since launching in 2014, Yondr has provided pouches for concerts by artists like Guns N' Roses, the Lumineers, Alicia Keys, Louis C.K. and Dave Chappelle. But they've also found a foothold in school systems, manufacturing plants, workplaces and special events like weddings — places where cellphone use might be a security issue, not just an annoyance.
"In terms of growth, I think it's kind of unlimited," Dugoni said. "Because the concept goes far beyond artists. It's this idea in every modern city that you can step into a space that at any given time can be a device-free space."