MadHousing is a student-run dorm review website designed by University of Wisconsin-Madison students to make choosing dorms a more straightforward process for incoming freshmen. It launched in spring 2022.
The four founders — Kevin Phouisangiem, Aayush Bharadwaj, Pranav Poddutoori, Adilur Istekov — said they came up with the idea to create a dorm review website in the university’s Software Development Club, where they had to come up with a project and wanted to create a platform beneficial for students.
“When we were all brainstorming, we all agreed that we wanted to create something cool that students would use,” Phouisangiem said.
The founders said they remembered having a hard time choosing dorms their freshman year due to the lack of consolidated and easily accessible information about them online.
“I remember looking at Reddit and YouTube, and it was all kind of messy. If a website like that existed at the time, it would’ve been really helpful,” Phouisangiem said.
Bharadwaj echoed this sentiment, saying he and co-founder Pranav Poddutoori “had a really hard time finding what dorms are good because pretty much the only information was through Reddit or other forms and stuff, so we [they] wanted to consolidate it to one area.”
The website allows students to rate and review each dorm, and Poddutoori described it as similar to Rate My Professors but for dorms. Incoming students are able to then see the reviews and even sort the dorms into categories such as building age and location.
“You can even sort it to see which dorms have the best social life as rated by students, and you can use those factors to determine what your top choices would be,” Poddutoori explained.
Because the founders experienced difficulty finding information about the dorms, they were enthusiastic about the project and creation of the website.
“Thankfully, all of us were very passionate about this; it works a lot better when everyone is actually interested in all this. It made it kind of like a hobby rather than just like a project that we had to do for school,” Bharadwaj said.
Poddutoori explained how creating this website in the Software Development Club helped enhance his education.
“You don’t really get all this experience just by being in class, and I think that genuinely helped us a lot because we all wanted to learn new things and this was our way of doing it,” he said.
Though this website was just released last spring, it has already seen traction. According to Phouisangiem, the website already had over 1,000 users and 100 reviews within its first couple days.
Users from all over the world, not just the United States, have accessed the website.
“We can see a general area of where all the users are from, and they are all from around the world actually — most from the U.S., but there’s also a lot from India, China and South Korea,” he added.
The founders shared their goal for the website to become a mainstream way for future students to access information about the university’s residence halls.
“We just hope that students will be able to use this and that it becomes mainstream for students coming into UW-Madison, and we really hope it influences their decision for what dorm they decide to live at for their first year,” Bharadwaj said.
“The website is a demonstration of what you can do if you put your mind to something, we didn’t know anything before this and we were able to make it happen, so you can learn, you can do whatever you want as long as you put your mind to it,” Poddutoori said.