As he prowls the stage at the inaugural Venture North conference in Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, Razor Suleman is gaining momentum.

The founder of Achievers (which he sold in June for $137 million) catalogues the international investing appeal of the Toronto-Waterloo innovation ecosystem – its strong talent base and educational resources, concrete investments from both corporate and government leaders, the comparatively low cost of running a business in Canada, the recent billion-dollar valuations of homegrown companies like Shopify and Kik – before he arrives at his hyperbolic zenith.

“This week you are part of Canadian history,” he tells the crowd. “There have never been 24 U.S. venture capitalists – U.S. firms who got on planes, who left California, New York, Boston – who have come here like they have this week. These 24 firms that are looking to invest in Canadian companies represent over $20 billion in investable assets. That’s $20 billion that’s never been on Canadian soil at any one time.”

He pauses with a laugh to acknowledge this figure as a “Razor fact,” a number presented so enthusiastically as to seem real, even if it’s slightly exaggerated. “It’s a really unique time in Canada.”

The crowd is in Suleman’s hands. And in many regards, the gospel he’s delivering at the conference is absolutely true: This is an exciting time for the Toronto-Waterloo tech region, an area that’s rife with Silicon Valley–scale growth possibilities.

But there’s still an elephant in the room: Sure, the Toronto-KW corridor has tremendous promise, but it still has tremendous obstacles to surmount on its way to global–scale success, from ongoing infrastructure and capital challenges to the ability of the region and its talent to sell themselves to the international market.

The Venture North conference, presented by RBC and co-hosted by Communitech, The C100, OneEleven, MaRS and the government of Ontario, is designed to help smooth over some of those roadblocks by connecting tech entrepreneurs working in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor with American venture capital.

And so, at a speaker session on day two of the conference, the region’s success stories are unfurled: Michael Serbinis, the founder and CEO of Kobo who now heads up digital health and wellness platform LEAGUE, tells the crowd about what he calls the Canadian edge – a drive to do more with less and succeed on a global level that he feels is a defining characteristic of the talent working here. Eloqua co-founder Steve Woods heaps praise on the Toronto tech ecosystem and the talent it breeds. Ariel Garten, co-founder and CEO of brain-sensing technologies company InterAxon, tells the crowd about the unmatched hardware manufacturing talent that exists within the region – primarily as a result of BlackBerry’s downsizing – and is there for the hiring.

When Felicis Ventures founder Aydin Senkut hits the stage – with investments in seven Canadian companies to date, Felicis is one of the most active American VCs operating north of the border – he too heaps praise on the Toronto-Waterloo scene, but doesn’t skirt the issue of international perception of the Canadian market.

“From an activity perspective and dollars perspective it’s not bad, but when you compare it to areas like Silicon Valley, clearly there is a little bit of a gap.” That gap, he says, is what events like Venture North are meant to address. “I think there’s a lot of selling that needs to be done to enhance or escalate the perception of the region.”

That selling job trickles down to the individual business level, too, says Tim Wright, general partner at GrandBanks Capital during a break in the session.

“We don’t care where our deals are. We just need to find them. It’s about discovery. I come to things like this so that people come to me, so these guys have to be aggressive in reaching out and making it easy for the VC to see them and to understand their business.”

Part of that ease of discovery remains hindered by the current state of transit and infrastructure within the Toronto-Waterloo corridor. In a conversation between OMERS Ventures CEO John Ruffolo, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Tory put voice to the transportation frustrations of many in the room.

“It is not a corridor when you have the 401 and a couple of shuttle buses and two GO trains. This is not a corridor. In other places around the world this would be considered an embarrassment.”

And access to capital, of course, remains an ongoing issue for startups hoping to scale.

“You need to have more of the institutional money in Canada that participates on a venture basis,” says GrandBanks’ Tim Wright. “So if you look at the leadership that OMERS is showing here [the company has over a half-billion dollars under management in the sector], if you could get a few more to do the same thing, I think you’d see a lot more vibrancy in the market.”

So, surprise: The Toronto-Waterloo tech ecosystem’s not perfect. But anyone who came out to Venture North already knew that. They arrived in hopes of changing it for the better.

As Razor Suleman arrived at his final thoughts onstage, he summed up the optimistic leanings of many Venture North attendees (with a flourish, of course).

“I believe there’s never been a better time to be a Canadian entrepreneur. My hope for the next five years is that we’re not going to have two or three Canadian unicorns – we’re going to have 20. The tech sector will become the leading creator of jobs across the country. And that will be what powers the Canadian economy.”

The inaugural Venture North conference was held Sept. 15-16, 2015 at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District.