*NEWS: Startup Releases Platform to Find Freelance Coders

Elmer Morales, founder and CEO, Koder

The hourly billing model in software development is broken, according to the founder of an Irvine startup that launched its platform in a public beta today.

Koder claims that it’s created a decentralized network of coders that enables anyone to hire highly-skilled freelance coders and reward them with a “bounty.”

This platform was designed to disrupt the traditional model of either paying freelancers by the hour or requesting bids from freelancers who then outbid each other “in a race to the bottom two models that plague today’s freelance marketplace,” Koder founder and CEO Elmer Morales said in a press release issued today.

How it Works

Koder users would download its app and create a task by defining specs and programming skills. Koder’s algorithm then mines its network of thousands of coders. It invites a few at a time, mostly the top performers, who match the skills of the “bounty.”

If those coders don’t respond within a given time frame, the algorithm moves to other coders, similar to how Uber and Lyft find nearby drivers when someone requests a ride.

In most cases, coders are given a small window to work on a project exclusively. If they are making “commits” on the platform and making progress, then they will be able to keep working on an exclusive basis until the task is done.

Morales said this will “significantly” reduce the cost and time it takes to hire coders, from several weeks to just a few minutes.

The coders are paid a “bounty” reward when the task is completed. Koder takes a small percentage of the bounty as a fee.


Morales, describes himself as a “trailblazer for Latinos in tech” and a self-taught coder. He immigrated with his family from Guatemala at age 5 when they settled in Los Angeles’ South-Central neighborhood.

He taught himself software development, which led to leadership roles in software engineering at Microsoft, American Express and Accenture, where he said he saw coders like himself sometimes billed out at $600 per hour, even if they were just attending meetings or reading a specification.

He also said he noticed that one or two coders typically did most of the work on behalf of a much larger team, “and knew there was a better way.”

In the two years since it launched, Koder has built a “gig economy platform,” designed to support the entire software development life cycle, from vetting top-tier coders via coding challenges, to reviewing bugs, as well as supporting payouts in dollars or cryptocurrency.

During its private beta period, the company grew its core team to 25-plus employees, acquired thousands of coders and generated millions in annual revenue, according to the release. Morales declined to disclose the exact amount, telling OC Startups Now that it’s in the “seven digits a year” range.

Koder has not done any formal raises yet. Morales bootstrapped the company with revenue generated during the private beta time and raised  $500,000 from friends and family.

The Koder platform is built on blockchain technology. Its app is now available as a tech preview in the Apple app store. Blockchain is touted as a secure digital ledger.

The pre-launch company designates its HQ in Irvine and has offices in Silicon Valley and India as well.

Bounty Model

Bounties have been historically offered by large companies like Apple, Google and Facebook, as an incentive to encourage highly-skilled coders to fix security bugs and find vulnerabilities in their software.

“The bounty model we introduced rewards coders for their problem-solving skills and speed,” Morales said in the release.

Koder’s platform can be used for any software development task, from simple prototypes to full-blown mobile apps, blockchain apps and smart contracts.

Work with Bravo

Koder has worked with companies including BMW, Uber, and dozens of startups like Bravo, a fin-tech company launched in 2015 that’s building payment technologies and plans to create its own cryptocurrency tokens. It used Koder’s app to develop its blockchain tech. A synergy as Morales is the CTO of Bravo.

Bravo, with HQ in Phoenix, enables users to tip or pay without cash. It was founded by husband-and-wife team Hector Rodriguez and Maria Luna. The couple created Bravo as a peer-to-peer tipping platform, similar to how PayPal works.

The future goal is to enable users to pay with Bravo’s own cryptocurrency, which will be called “BVO tokens.” The company claims these tokens – which will be launched in a future initial coin offering, (ICO), will enable “instant, secure and anonymous payments worldwide,” according to its website.

Bravo was recently featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

“The Koder platform saved us over $100,000 and the technology its crowd-sourced coders built helped us land a deal with Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner in front of millions of viewers,” Maria Luna, co-founder and CEO of Bravo Pay said in the release. “Koder has introduced an innovative model where I no longer have to stress about the number of hours the coders are spending. As a startup CEO with limited resources, this is a game changer.”

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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