MAZDIS’ innovative storage units keep citizen’s bikes safe

SFU VentureLabs client company MAZDIS is a Vancouver-based company offering automated bike storage systems that make it easier for cyclists to securely and conveniently park their bicycles, for developers to save space, and for Local Government to invest in secure bike parking.

Nick Mani, CEO & Founder of MAZDIS

VentureLabs spoke with Nick Mani, CEO of MAZDIS, to learn more about their products and the inspiration behind the company. 

The inspiration behind MAZDIS

Nick moved to Canada from the Netherlands, where riding bicycles is one of the main ways of transportation within cities. “You travel, you shop, you do everything with a bike. People even get married on a bike there!” One of the issues citizens were facing was “national bike-sharing” – aka their bike being stolen, used, and then randomly dropped off. Their expensive bikes were constantly being taken and Nick wanted to find a way to fix this problem.

As a mechanical engineer, Nick began to come up with various designs on how bikes could be stored safely and securely. In the Netherlands, there isn’t much space – making land very valuable. Nick “designed a tiered storing concept where your bike goes up on a tier and comes back down when you want to retrieve it, with no way of it getting stolen.” 

In 2007 he made the move to Vancouver, BC. With no bike lanes and minimal infrastructure for cyclists, he saw how the mode of transportation was not as popular. But, in 2010 cycling started booming in the city. The rate at which Vancouverites’ bikes were stolen increased and Nick saw this as a growing issue similar to the Netherlands. “In 2015, there were about 500 bikes stolen in Richmond and 2000 bikes stolen in Vancouver.” Resulting in more and more citizens feeling reluctant and discouraged to use their bikes in lieu of their cars. 

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The idea initially started due to security, “but we also understood that building bylaws enforce builders to associate a very big chunk of the building for bicycle storage. It takes a lot of space away from the building resulting in lost parking space and money wasted”. Another issue with the bike storage available at the time was how difficult it was for cyclists to retrieve their bikes from the parkades. Alas MADIZ was born. A secure and easy way for citizens to store their bikes, and a cost-effective and space-saving solution for cities.

How does their storage system work?

MAZDIS currently has three storage system options. MazDome, MazBuild, and MazStall. MazDome and MazBuild are very similar systems that are either installed in new developments (MazBuild), or in an open space (MazDome), turning it into a super-efficient, automated, and highly secure smart bike storage unit. “You can add more stackable layers. Each layer stores about 20 bikes. For example, if you have 6 layers, you can store around 120 bikes.” 

MazBuild Prototype
The MazDome installed behind the Minoru Centre for Active Living. | Maria Rantanen

“There are some areas around the city and in existing buildings where accommodation for secure bicycle storage is needed. So, we created our next product MazStall.” MazStall is a 2.5m x 5.5m storage structure occupying just one parking space that fits 22 – 24 bicycles. Like all MAZDIS products, it is a fully automated system, allowing you to simply place your bike into the structure and let the automation do the rest. To retrieve your bike, you can use the MAZDIS app or the simple interface on the exterior of the unit.

The automation of their storage systems is not the only amazing aspect of the MAZDIS products. They have very comprehensive software similar to car2go and Evo. This allows users to secure a parking space in advance through their app. “We are eventually going to get data from public transport to be able to suggest parking spots to the cyclist based on the destination.”

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MazStall Prototype
MazStall Prototype

Nick mentioned that “physiologically if you want to improve cycling in cities, you need to prevent vandalism or stolen bikes because every time a bike is stolen, the person who lost the bike gives up on using a bike for at least 2-3 months.” This aligns with one of MAZDIS’ goals to encourage the use of bicycles over vehicles.

How have the current units been received so far? 

A MazDome unit is currently up and operating at Richmond’s Minoru Centre, where it has been well received. “We are seeing that people now feel safe to leave their bike outside the community centre.” The dome is sure to gain even more popularity throughout this summer. Nick noted that once you install the MazStall system and see it’s gaining popularity, you can expand and build more modules on top of it. 

What’s next for MAZDIS? 

MAZDIS is currently speaking with a couple of major developers in the Greater Vancouver Area who have submitted their project permits including the MAZDIS storage systems to the city.

“The MazStall is in the final development phase where we are putting it together and testing. So, hopefully, it is going to be ready by late July or beginning of August.” They have already received interest from a few cities that want to install them as a demo. “We are hoping that we can eventually sell this unit to shopping malls to reduce the number of people coming in with cars.”

“One of the major obstacles we have to resolve for MazStall is to find a revenue model for each location. Not only for us but for the company that provides the land.” They are looking into providing advertising space on the outside of the units that would intern pay for the cost of the system for the developers. 

The bottom line is that MAZDIS has an amazing product that can really benefit our cities and help encourage citizens to be active and choose their bikes over their cars. VentureLabs is excited for the future and potential of the MAZDIS storage units. 

Learn more about MAZDIS.

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