Every summer, sellers hawking bolas de Berlim – custard-filled doughnuts without a hole in the middle – throng to Portuguese beaches. Plodding across the boiling sand and ringing a bell to announce their arrival, they deliver these beautifully simple pastries to hungry beachgoers, many of whom associate a trip to the coast with the sweet treat. A slew of bolas are sold on the beach each year; the presumed number is almost as eyebrow-raising as the calorie content of a big fat bola filled with custard. It’s no surprise, then, that an app promising to be the Uber of bolas has been an immediate success.
The idea for the Bolinhas app first came up in a conversation Ignácio Correia, the app’s founder, had with his youngest brother on a beach in the Algarve, where he and his siblings grew up. It took some years for Correia to act on the idea, but he ultimately developed the app through his company Algardata. Launched in early July of this year, Bolinhas has already gained traction, both with customers (the app recorded around 6000 downloads in the first week) and sellers applying to work with the app. It currently leads Apple store and Google Play for downloads in the food category in Portugal.