Editor’s note: ExitEvent, a news partner of WRAL TechWire, profiles the six recipients of the latest NC IDEA Fund grants. This profile features CrowdTunes. Profiles were written by ExitEvent Editor Laura Baverman.

DURHAM, N.C. – Brandon Magsamen likes to joke that the genesis of CrowdTunes came during his teenage days serving up burgers and milkshakes at Johnny Rocket’s.

As a server, he gave out nickels that let diners control the jukebox from their tables.

Fast forward to today, and it only made sense that patrons of a bar or restaurant should have that kind of control over a venue’s music from the Internet-enabled smartphones in their pockets. Magsamen came up with the idea in August 2012 in economics class during business school at Duke University—he thought about piano bars and the cash you had to throw down to move your song choice to the top of the list. He convinced classmates Joe Bartell and Lee Kornfield to help him figure out how to build that kind of market into a digital jukebox service.

The three men participated in the Program for Entrepreneurs course at Duke’s Fuqua College of Business. Magsamen says they got laughed at—people thought the idea was silly. But they also received a lot of helpful mentorship. They recruited developer and fourth co-founder Davis Gossage to build the application. A grant from Duke funded his work last summer. They also brought on a pair of serial entrepreneurs, Rob Witman and Phil Jacobsen, as equity co-founders, a selling point for NC IDEA, says investor-judge John Cambier.

The complete profile can be read at ExitEvent.