MINNEAPOLIS — Representatives from Google, Microsoft, and other lead tech companies are in the Twin Cities this week, but technology is not the only reason for their visit.

They’re part of BITCON, the second annual Blacks in Technology Conference happening Wednesday through Saturday.

The conference highlights more than 40 workshops, sessions, and panels and more than 50 speakers at several venues across the Twin Cities.

One such event kicks off Wednesday at the Lumber Exchange in downtown Minneapolis.

Local tech entrepreneurs plan to compete in a Shark Tank-style pitch competition in front of investors and judges. The winner takes home $2,500 plus Lenovo’s new ThinkBook laptop.

Mike Jackson, organizer of the Blacks in Technology Twin Cities Chapter, says the ThinkBook was designed with small business owners in mind.

It has a built-in web camera cover and fingerprint ID for extra security. You know, so no one steals your ideas.

It’s lightweight so you can easily take it to co-working spaces.

The keyboard is even spillproof in case you spill coffee while you work.

Organizers say the purpose of the competition and the BITCON convention in general is to increase participation and representation of black people in the tech industry.

At the same time, everyone’s welcome.

"Anybody who is interested in being a part of something like this, interested in technology whether it's finding out what's coming next or whether it's literally looking for a career in technology everybody should come," Jackson said.

Around 1,500 people are expected to attend. Online registration is still open. 

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