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From Kathmandu to AI Frontiers: Fusemachines CEO’s Path to Tech

Growing up in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sameer Maskey did not experience the internet until the age of 19. Yet 15 years after that first encounter, he established his own AI company.

In 1998, he traveled to the United States to study at Bates College in Maine, earning his bachelor’s degree and experiencing the Internet for the first time. He’s now the CEO of Fusemachines, an AI company preparing for a NASDAQ listing. 

“Raised in an environment with minimal access to technology, my enduring fascination with language translation ignited my passion for computer science,” he told PYMNTS. 

Maskey pursued a Ph.D. in computer science at Columbia University, where he laid the groundwork for his future contributions to AI research. After completing his doctorate, Maskey worked at IBM Watson, engaging in AI projects. He founded Fusemachines in 2013, and the company has since collaborated with various organizations, including TIME, OTG, H&M, and the City of New York, demonstrating the diverse applications of AI across different sectors.

Seeking ROI Through AI

Fusemachines offers products like the AI Studio and AI Engines, which leverage generative AI for enterprises. Examples of Fusemachines’ industry-specific solutions span various sectors, including retail, healthcare, banking, and media and entertainment. These solutions range from demand forecasting and market basket analysis in retail to AI-assisted diagnostics and surgical robots in healthcare, fraud detection and personalized financial planning in banking, AI-powered content generation, and audience insights in media and entertainment.

Maskey said Fusemachines has worked with many clients who deployed various AI platforms but could not see the ROI on their endeavors because the system’s accuracy was not high enough for their end-users. 

“We saw this happen quite a bit and realized that an added 10 to 20% accuracy could make a big difference on the AI systems’ ROI,” he added. “Hence, we started building highly-tuned solutions focused on specific industries and use cases. With this degree of fine-tuning, we were able to get higher accuracy from the systems, thus resulting in higher ROI that was viable for end users. This realization led us to continue building solutions that are industry and use-case-specific.”

AI-driven tools provide consumers with unprecedented control over their personal finances, Maskey said. Through apps and platforms, individuals can effortlessly check balances, schedule payments, and receive personalized financial advice tailored to their goals and spending habits. 

“This not only enhances financial literacy but also fosters financial independence, catering to the preferences of tech-savvy consumers who increasingly prefer digital options over in-person branches,” he added. 

Observers say that AI is set to revamp the personal finance industry. During a conversation with PYMNTS for the “What’s Next in Payments: Payments and Generative AI” series, AI-ID founder and CEO Shaunt Sarkissian pointed out that GenAI will introduce more automated and streamlined processes. He emphasized the potential for AI to expedite tasks like completing wire transfer forms and optimizing payment messaging pathways, thereby enhancing efficiency, reducing errors, and saving time. Sarkissian also mentioned the benefits of integrating AI into payment systems, such as providing personalized customer recommendations and achieving cost savings through improved payment orchestration and routing.

Global AI Education

Maskey is trying to help individuals from Nepal and other countries embark on a path similar to his own in AI entrepreneurship. To this end, Fusemachines introduced an AI fellowship program for students from underserved countries in 2017. The curriculum was developed by faculty from leading US universities and experts from the AI industry and has trained over 800 fellows across 12 countries.

“With the expanding presence of AI in various industries, possessing sound AI knowledge is becoming essential to navigate evolving job landscapes,” Maskey said. “By training students from underserved communities in AI, we not only equip them for future AI-related jobs but also empower entire communities economically. This empowerment can lead to improved ROI, economic growth, and reduced unemployment rates.”

Maskey said that teaching AI skills to people in less privileged areas is critical to improving economies and overcoming gaps in digital and economic opportunities.

“Moreover, leveraging AI education allows passionate individuals from these communities to not only solve local challenges but also develop globally marketable products, thus fostering innovation and inclusivity,” he said.