It started as a small team seven years ago, meeting after work over take-out, and now Ami Brannon has helped build a company into 13 people with office space in West Palm Beach reaching customers across the globe.
Brannon, 50, left her steady, secure job working as a nurse and the director of critical care at Delray Medical Center to pursue a new career with a local tech startup.
Fast forward seven years, lots of trial and error, several big wins, and a few hiccups: Brannon is now the chief revenue officer and co-founder of Neuvana, a local neuroscience company at the intersection of health, wellness and technology.
“I had years of experience in corporate hospital-based health care, and was inspired by the idea of creating something new that could make a major impact on people’s lives,” Brannon said.
MEET more neighbors
Ironically, the Palm Beach County native’s first declared major in college was electrical engineering. She enjoyed solving problems and being creative, but realized after a couple of years of coursework that she didn’t love math that much. She still loved science and people, so nursing was perfect.
In 2015, after much deliberation, she became a co-founder of her new venture and developed the first consumer-focused vagus nerve stimulator, Xen. It was launched a few months before the pandemic.
“Luckily, our product is designed to reduce stress and help you sleep better so the product perks have definitely helped us all personally make it through,” Brannon said. “Due to COVID, our research partners were not able to bring study subjects into their labs and clinics during the pandemic.”
Therefore, like most companies, they had to pivot and problem solve. So, they created a research app to allow for studies virtually. They also recently completed all the testing and certification requirements to ship into Canada, Europe, and the United Kingdom.
“It’s an exciting time for our company and all the hard work is starting to pay off,” she said. “For me, it’s been such a rewarding learning process to be involved in a startup company and bring a revolutionary product to life.”
When she’s not hosting late-night board meetings for Neuvana (often, the only woman at the table) or troubleshooting with her team of engineers, Brannon can be found cheering from the sidelines at her children’s sports games or having dinner with her family at Mamma Mia’s Pizza in Lake Worth Beach. Brannon lives in the city with her husband, Larry, and three teenage children, Delaney, Riley and Cael.
Who is your hero?
My parents. When I consider the work it has taken me to get where I am, I quickly admit that I started from a solid foundation that was built for me by my parents. They rose above home environments that lacked consistent love, means, and stability. They’ve stayed married for almost 55 years, built businesses together, cultivated lifelong friendships and supported my sister and me to do what we loved.
What is your favorite movie?
Oh, this is a toss-up between “Bad Moms” and “A Bad Moms Christmas.”
What are your hobbies?
Pretty much anything creative. I love to refurbish and repurpose outdated furniture. There is such a sense of accomplishment in seeing the “before and after” photos, and the updated pieces add character to a room.
What do you do to get away or take a break?
Walking outside and getting sunshine and fresh air is the best way to clear my head (yes, even in the summer). I know it may sound cliché, but when I can, I love to walk on the beach. Daydreaming about the future on these walks is one of my favorite things to do with my husband.
Favorite book and why?
“The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande. I read this book in my hospital days, but found that it applies to any complex work that we do. I’m a huge fan of a “to do” list, but this reaches far beyond that, into how to prevent errors and recognize that most errors are not caused by a person, but a system.
If you could meet any person in history, who would it be and why?
I would choose someone who is living in today’s time, simply for relatability. Ronda Rousey — on top of being the first female admitted to the UFC Hall of Fame, she has created her own brand, built a career with very public successes and failures, and she’s a mom focused on sustainable living for her family.
Most cherished memory?
That’s a tough question to ask a wife of 28 years and the mother of three children. During the pandemic, we had so many family moments in a brief time period that we otherwise wouldn’t have had. Campfires, backyard dancing on weeknights, board games, and binge-watching Netflix shows — I’m so grateful for those memories.
Best advice you ever received?
“You’re never going to be 100% ready.” My mom said this to me whenever I was nervous about something I felt I wasn’t completely prepared to do. The first time was when I was getting married (here we are 28 married years later!), then when deciding to have children, then starting a new career, and so on.