How Falaya’s Barret Blondeau Is Redefining Real Estate


During his days as a real estate agent, Barret Blondeau learned that home sellers wanted more options for selling their properties than listing their home with a realtor. But the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) process is difficult to pull off. According to Zillow’s recent research, of the 36% of sellers who attempt FSBO, only 11% are successful.

As an agent, Blondeau encountered a lot of frustration with the real estate system. Not every seller wants to rely on a realtor to list their home. “They sometimes didn’t want a full-service offering, but the way the market is set up right now, you’ve only got one choice,” Blondeau says. “People want a way to control their costs during the transaction, and I saw an opportunity to deliver realtor services at a fair price.”

Blondeau’s startup, Falaya (formerly Unlock’d), allows users to list their homes for sale without the cost of selling through an agent. Here’s how Blondeau plans to shake up the real estate market while supporting the local tech startup ecosystem in Baton Rouge.

Streamline the Home Selling Process

Several home sellers try selling by owner first, but owner-sold listings don’t get nearly as much exposure as realtor listings. Most FSBO homes are only listed on specific websites, severely limiting their exposure. Falaya solves the problem by allowing individuals to post their homes for a flat rate and distributing their listings on and Zillow — where prospective buyers are actually looking. Blondeau also offers an add-on service for home sellers who want guidance and support through the negotiation and closing processes.

Virtual processes, like allowing buyers to schedule and chat with sellers through the app and using auto-filled documents, keep costs down and make the process easier. While there are other organizations in the digital real estate space, Blondeau believes Falaya is differentiated because it’s a technology company leveraging the latest tools and focused on a for-sale-by-owner market.

Hone in on the Right Branding

While Blondeau still loves the name Unlock’d, he recently decided to change the name and cultivate a brand that is holistic and aspirational. “Unlock’d” focuses attention on the process and product rather than the overall experience. The name “Falaya” is aspirational and connected to his Louisiana roots. Based on the Atchafalaya River, the title suggests rapid change and progress. “We wanted to create the vibe of something that’s bigger than just a transaction,” he says.

And the new name will allow his startup to progress, too. “It gives us an opportunity to change up and think about what we want to do long-term,” Blondeau says. It’s a title that can travel well and stand out from other real estate agencies (an extremely crowded market) as he expands across state lines. When selecting a name for your startup, Blondeau suggests searching existing titles on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website. “You have to be able to get the URL,” Blondeau says. “It can’t just be a cool name — it has to be functional and trademarkable.”

Make the Right Connections

As a founder, Blondeau discovered that working with the right team is essential. You need people who understand what you’re trying to do and can execute your plan. “Don’t just look for the first person to help you with software, or the first person to help you with a pitch,” Blondeau says. “Make sure that person understands your business and connects with you because you’re going to be in it with them for a while.”

Finding your place in the startup ecosystem is essential, too. There are resources for new startups, but not every incubator is right for everyone. “You’ve got to be very, very careful with that,” Blondeau says. “You’ve only got a limited amount of resources and a limited amount of time to get your idea off the ground, so the decisions you make are extremely important.” Blondeau’s decision to join the Tech Park was strategic: Randall Nachman of Novateus is a member, and he and Blondeau are collaborating on developing Falaya’s software.

Now in the process of marketing and gathering users for Falaya, Blondeau maintains his morale and momentum by focusing on the small wins — even as he continues working towards the big ones. “Everything you’re doing takes more time than you think,” Blondeau says. “You just have to enjoy the daily wins and keep on grinding.”

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