Frontline Growth

Where to Land: Selecting Your European HQ

A European HQ Is Still Essential in a post-covid world

Although decision making has become increasingly decentralised, selecting the right location for a European headquarters is a critical step on the journey to becoming a global business.

Even if you are currently working with a distributed team and have no plans to invest in a physical office right away, you still need to think about where your customers are, where the talent you need is concentrated, and where you can best access markets and opportunities for long term growth.

We’ve written this guide to help you answer “where to go?” in Europe. On the surface, this may sound like an easy piece of the internationalisation puzzle but Europe is not homogenous. Where you land — and how effectively you do it — can have enormous consequences on your global business’s success.

Four Criteria, Three Cities

Europe has a sprawling tech ecosystem — Unicorns have been built in 40 different cities across 20 countries. That said, a robust local start-up scene in and of itself, does not make a particular city the right location for your base in Europe. The most popular European landing cities are London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin. In June of last year, we published an extensive report on European Expansion patterns over the last decade (now updated for 2023). Our data demonstrated that of the five, 75% of SaaS end up choosing London, Dublin or Amsterdam as their base. At the heart of their (and your) decision-making process, should be four key criteria:
  • Customers: Market prioritization, GTM model, network/cluster effects
  • Talent: Talent pools, leadership, language coverage, network/cluster effects
  • Cost: Compensation, real estate, taxes
  • Business Environment: Regulation, data privacy, access and connectivity

A Cheat Sheet

As you peruse our report, how you choose to weigh each factor and criteria will be unique to the needs of your business. Ultimately, we urge you to keep efficient growth at the centre of your decision-making process. Focusing on customers and employees before costs is always our recommendation.

Decisions around where to set up your European HQ are nuanced, and errors can be costly. As you embark on your internationalization journey, we remind you of three critical truths:

  1. On the road to IPO, 30% of your revenue should be coming from Europe.
  2. Successful expansion begins and ends at the desk of the CEO – and even market leaders make mistakes (HBR)
  3. The time to expand is now (TechCrunch)

Download the Where to Land report here

We hope you enjoy our guide and as always — feel free to get in touch! ([email protected])

– Frontline Growth Team

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