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April Underwood

For leveling the VC scales.

April Underwood
[Photo: DeAgostini, Getty Images]

Earlier this year, April Underwood, former director of product at Twitter, left the company to start #Angels–an angel-round investment group consisting entirely of former and current female Twitter execs. The group arrives at a crucial time in Silicon Valley, when Twitter’s own workforce is merely 30% female and the venerable VC firm Kleiner Perkins has been embroiled in a sex-discrimination lawsuit. “No one takes note when a group of men decide to start an angel investing group or a fund,” says Underwood. “[And] it would be great if one day that’s not the most notable thing when a group of women get together to do something.”

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#Angels founders, top row: Chloe Sladden, Jana Messerschmidt, and Jessica Verrilli; bottom row: Vijaya Gadde, Katie Stanton, and April Underwood

Bonus Round

Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?

I get out of the city to clear my head on the nearby hiking trails in the Bay Area, or out of the country to get exposure to new ways of living, flavors, and problems that need to be solved. I’m heading to Bhutan this week.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I make breakfast. It’s the only meal I cook on a regular basis, and even though I’ve had the option at Twitter and Google to eat gourmet food for free at my office, I enjoy the ritual of making myself something simple at home before the day’s busyness kicks in.

What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?

The percentage of issues large and small that we are able to solve over text messaging. Most of our team is still fully engaged in full-time operating roles, and the couple of us who aren’t are also active advisors and balancing a variety of projects, so we keep communication as lightweight as possible.

What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?

@scooteromatours on Instagram. I met Annie (who runs the account) through a friend when I visited Rome for the first time last year. She runs a tour business taking folks out on scooters, and her photos are a beautiful panorama of sexy vintage scooters and beautiful Italian scenery.

What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?

Yoga is a huge help. I started doing it at the Twitter office (one of Twitter’s many perks) when I started building a new product in 2012, and I stuck with it. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I typically realize I haven’t been prioritizing yoga, and when I fix that, things fall back into place.

Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?

Female comedians and writers, like Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, and Kristen Wiig. Being able to be authentically funny as a woman, and using humor to tell hard truths, is a lifelong aspiration of mine.

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About the author

Nikita Richardson is an assistant editor at Fast Company magazine.

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