At The Inspire Conference in London this week, The Next Web met quite a few cool new startups. And one of them was Lutebox, a social entertainment hub.

So – what exactly is a social entertainment hub? In the case of Lutebox, it’s an online hangout where users can instantly stream, play and discover premium entertainment content. Friends can link-up to enjoy movies, music, games etc in real-time, anywhere in the world.

I spoke with S. Ali Ahmed, Founder and Managing Director of Lutebox, to explain a little more about Lutebox and how it differs from existing platforms:

The problem, according to Lutebox, is that people don’t have a central, single point online where they can consume instant on-demand premium entertainment whilst interacting in real-time with their friends. And that’s where Lutebox comes into play.

4. Screenshot Social Slider 520x253 Lutebox: a social entertainment hub for premium content

Users purchase Lutes (virtual credits/currency) which can be allocated towards premium content. And the beauty of this is that users can club together to pay for a movie – just as though they are hiring a DVD and watching together in the same room. Lutebox takes a fixed commission fee off every transaction, while returning the remainder to the original content owner/facilitator

Of course, Facebook already offers movie streaming, you can share songs and playlists, and Facebook already has almost 700m users. How can Lutebox compete with this? Ahmed says:

“The way Facebook has built entertainment around itself, it’s a very cluttered experience. You have to dig through various apps, approve the apps, you then have to click through to the Warner Brothers website, and then purchase a movie to stream it. And you don’t really have a social experience with your friends. With Lutebox, the social interaction is all in real-time – as you’re watching a movie or playing a game.”

And Ahmed also noted that for Facebook to compete with what Lutebox has – a dedicated social entertainment hub – it would have to completely destroy its user interface and start again from the bottom up. So how far along is Lutebox and who’s interested so far?

“We’ve finalized a deal with one of the major record labels, we’re speaking to a few film studios, and we’ve spoken to a few independents who’ve agreed to come on board. It’s a long process though.”

The interface also has localized features built-in too, such as the ability to order food and drink from local delivery outlets. And even tickets for new movies in local cinemas can be purchased directly through the interface:

3. Screenshot Play Screen 520x253 Lutebox: a social entertainment hub for premium content

Lutebox is still in alpha mode, but Ahmed hopes to go public with it within a few months once it has developed enough content no the platform. You could be seeing a lot more of Lutebox in the future, so keep an eye on this one.

Meanwhile, take a look at Lutebox’s official promo video:

http://youtu.be/pD57HJfKBZE