Married Couple Starts a Startup in Their Hospital Bed, While Homeschooling Kids With Cancer

When Samir and Amy Lakhani decided to work on a startup, they quit their full-time jobs, went back to homeschooling their children, and then he was diagnosed with cancer.

Earlier this year, Samir and Joanne Zhu, former coworkers at Convoy, decided to launch their own company- a startup.

Eager to remain productive even with cancer and homeschooling obligations, they developed a video game for children called Magicall.

In the background, Amy and Inder were struggling with other challenges.

Amy, a former marketer for Microsoft and Intel, quit her job in March 2020 to homeschool their children, joining me in building Magicall (link not provided).

When Magicall launched, Amy was diagnosed with cancer and had a double mastectomy.

Having support from their family and friends helped the family during difficult times. They moved back to Minnesota to be with Amy’s family after surgery as they were recovering, and friends took on teaching home-schooling for them in the meantime.

In addition, former colleagues of hers helped give feedback and advice about their business Magicall.

Amy and Samir emphasized the importance of seeking support, inspiration and perspective when struggling to maintain personal challenges.

“When you put all your emotional energy into something you care about, every bump in the road can feel like a disaster,” Samir said. “By regularly writing down the many things I’m grateful for, I don’t overreact emotionally or dwell on every setback.”

This husband-wife duo found the need for an app like Magicall during a video call with their young children.

“The kids would sit there and have one word answers, and their attention spans just couldn’t handle it,” Amy said. “…We thought there had to be a better way to engage them.”

Samir, an entrepreneur with a degree in biomedical engineering, developed Magicall hoping to help kids see their grandparents without risk of infection.

“The kids have never been more excited about a product their parents had worked on,” Amy noted.

Local startup Magicall provides a free version of the service and a 5/month subscription plan for investors. Investors include Thomas Layton, former CEO of OpenTable, and Marc Mezvinsky, director at TPG Capital.