Samir with Amy Rakani During the global pandemic, they spent quite a year-including quitting their full-time job, starting their first startup company, homeschooling kids, and cancer diagnosis.
Last summer, Samir, who worked for Facebook and Seattle startup Convoy, decided to leave the company temporarily and start his own company. Zhu Anni, A former colleague of Convoy.
They launched magician, A video call application that allows children to remotely play games and read books with family and friends. The app is designed to attract the attention of children while allowing quality time with relatives.
But in the background, Lakhanis faces other challenges.
Amy used to be a marketer for Microsoft and Intel. She quit her job in March 2020 to let her children go to school at home and help build Magical.
Then, a few months after Magical was launched, Amy was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.
It is the community that helped the family through every challenge. During the recovery period, they moved back to Minnesota to be with Amy’s family. Friends helped homeschool, and former colleagues provided suggestions and feedback for Magical.
Amy and Samir emphasized the importance of seeking support, inspiration and perspective when starting a business, while also addressing personal challenges.
“When you put all your emotional energy into the things you care about, every bump on the road feels like a disaster,” Samir said. “By regularly writing down many things that I am grateful for, I will not overreact emotionally, nor will I dwell on every setback.”
When they watched their children make video calls with grandparents, the founding duo of the couple saw the need for apps like Magical.
“Children will sit there and answer in one word, and their attention can’t cope with it,” Amy said. “…We think there must be a better way to attract them.”
Samir said that due to health reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many children from seeing their grandparents, which created a demand for things like Magical.
“Kids have never been so excited about the products their parents have developed,” Amy points out.
Magicall will provide a free version of the service and a $5 monthly subscription plan. Investors include Thomas Layton, former CEO of OpenTable, and Marc Mezvinsky, director of TPG Capital.
The company has raised an undisclosed amount of funds from angel investors.