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How to get noticed at SXSW: 13 grilled cheeses in 60 seconds

What better way to get people to check out your app or Web site than to hold an eating contest.

Takeru Kobayashi sets grilled cheese eating record at SXSW
James Martin

AUSTIN, Texas--Standing out amid the army of startups clamoring for attention at South by Southwest Interactive isn't easy. That is why RecordSetter, a site designed to do just as the name implies, and GroupMe brought in competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi do battle with others at a tent giving away grilled cheeses.

Kobayashi, best known as the former champion of the Nathan Hot Dog eating contest, went at it with fury. In a minute flat, he tossed back 13 grilled cheese sandwiches, complete with 26 slices of bread filled with slices of American cheese. His strategy: he dunked each sandwich in water shoving it down his throat.

Yes, a record was born, and presumably the video will be loaded up on RecordSetter, which tracks world records such as "Most Dogs Kissed In One Hour" and "Most Adele Songs Names in 30 Seconds."

Frivolous, perhaps. But the site, run by self-styled world record fanatic Dan Rollman, is gaining a following and last September it scored $1 million in seed funding.

The event--maybe spectacle is a better word--took place outside the main convention center at the GroupMe Grill, a grilled-cheese-and-beer station that's free to all who can show they have downloaded the GroupMe messaging app.

The runner up? David Tisch, an angel investor who is managing director of TechStars in New York. Tisch managed four grilled cheeses.

"I felt like I crossed something off my bucket list," said Tisch, as he walked away in a bit of a daze. "He is very good at eating."

Correction: An earlier version suggested that Kobayashi competed in last year's Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest. He did not.